Outside the Backdoor

Observing what can happen in your own garden even in suburbia!

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June brings …

June brings tulips, lilies, roses,
Fills the children’s hands with posies.

The cover of my church’s magazine this month celebrates the Queen’s official birthday with a picture of the Queen Elizabeth rose. It made me wonder how many of us have either grown up or currently reside with a Queen Elizabeth rose? 

Whilst I was growing up, there were two in our garden and they were still flourishing when I sold the house in 2009.  The scent from them was so powerful that it would waft down towards the house on a warm summer’s evening.  Hunting through some old photos I think I have managed to find a picture with one of the roses in bloom!

One of my Mum’s Queen Elizabeth roses from 2009 (c) John Malone

Without doubt in my mind, June is the month for roses.  Last Spring was so mild that we had roses in the garden in April but this year I’m concerned that the very early buds rather jumped the gun and were left shivering and rain-drenched well into May! 

Yellow Rosa Mutabilis – 10 May 2020 / 28 May 2021 (c) John Malone

I find it interesting to consider why roses are regarded with such affection?  They regularly top the polls of the ‘nation’s favourite’ flower (regardless of whether you are a Gardeners’ World viewer, Country Living reader or BBC Chelsea viewer) and we give them, either as cut flowers or as plants, on memorable occasions – Valentine’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries – we have two Rosa Silver Wedding that we acquired three years ago, and yet they are not the easiest of plants to deal with.  My mother had a way with roses and they bloomed magnificently for her but that left me terrified that we would prune ours incorrectly and be left without any flower!  I wasn’t encouraged by the first rose we ever bought, Etoile de Hollande, which smells divine but flatly refused to produce more than the occasional bud.  As a result, we moved it from its prime position by our pergola and rather unceremoniously re-planted it next to the greenhouse where it has subsequently thrived – talk about temperamental!

Rosa Silver Wedding (c) Elizabeth Malone

You can’t plant a rose and ignore it!  They need pruning, and their sharp thorns rarely thank you for it, and they need feeding, ideally twice a year if you want a really good display.  They can also be prone to disease – blackspot, aphids, they all like roses too!

Rosa Etoile de Hollande (c) John Malone

Apart from my one aforementioned failing climber and the semi-wild ones we inherited with the garden, I rather avoided roses to begin with but now I realise that I have no less than 14, or is it 15, roses.  Number 15 has just arrived having been wrestled from my mother-in-law’s garden.  It’s called Evelyn (she’s also called Evelyn) and I think it is a salmon pink.  To move it, we’ve had to prune it rather a lot so now we’re giving it some ‘TLC’ in the hope that it will forgive us for the rather abrupt move! 

Rosa Helenae – recently usurpsed as our ‘newest’ rose (c) Elizabeth Malone