It’s an ideal time to prune bush roses

Roses

Roses

Bidens aurea
- great for hanging baskets.

BRIAN KIDD: What on earth is that on my grandson’s apple tree?

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Let’s hope we have a good weekend weather-wise because this is an excellent time to prune the bush roses.

Don’t worry though – any time during the next three or four weeks will be ideal and I’ve given you plenty of notice!

Let’s do the job really well this time. Start by cutting the edges of the grass and picking up the clippings.

If the grass edge is not smart, nip out and buy a stainless steel half moon and use this to cut a new clean edge.

It will be like slicing into butter and will transform the appearance of the bed and give you a good feeling.

Now remove all the weeds. If the soil is a bit wet, use a kneeler and hand fork or trowel, putting all the weeds into a bag or bucket.

Don’t dig over the soil, this is done after pruning is completed.

A decent pair of secateurs is essential. They will be sharp and enable us to do the job quickly.

Try to use an empty dustbin. Put a large old compost bag inside to keep the bag upright and, as pieces are cut off, cut them again so that they go straight into the liner.

Why? It saves all that clearing up afterwards!

Be bold. Reduce every branch back really hard, leaving only three or four buds on each branch, cutting back to an outside-pointing bud.

The harder you prune, the more they grow. The more they grow, the more flowers appear as long as the plants are fed.

If there are any suckers, get rid of these once and for all by using a small trowel to ascertain where they start. Then carve them away from the base of the stem by using a sharp knife.

The bed can now be lightly forked over to a depth of only a couple of inches.

This is a very quick job, but the finish looks great.

If there is any well-rotted farmyard manure available, chop this up finely and throw a 4in layer over the top.

The final stage is to gently throw up the edge of the soil to expose that lovely clean grass edge.

What about fertiliser? Wait until the leaves unfurl round about mid-April.

We’ll then spread 3-4oz of Vitax Q4 pelleted fertiliser over each square yard, followed by a teaspoon of Epsom salts sprinkled round every bush to help prevent black spot disease.

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