Who doesn’t love roses? Well, this is a very good time to plant them. To start, the soil needs to be dug over to the full depth of a garden spade to make the job easier – especially if it’s a new bed.
Use a sharp spade or edging iron to cut the edge of the grass neatly and skim off the weeds over a foot of ground for the trench. Dig a trench the depth of a spade where the weeds were skimmed off and put the soil into a wheelbarrow or onto a cheap groundsheet from the market. This will enable weeds to be upturned into the base of the trench along with some well rotted compost or manure.
As digging proceeds try to bury all the green parts of the weeds and remove any suspicious white roots, couch grass and dandelion roots.
They must be removed otherwise they will grow again – even when covered with soil.
Place the weeds which were skimmed off into the base of the trench once the third row is completed and leave the soil rough to allow the surface to dry out.
Rake the surface of the soil a few hours after digging to ensure a good even surface. You will need three hybrid tea roses or floribunda roses per square yard and plant them equal distance apart. The perfumed varieties are lovely.
Plant the bushes so that the roots are spread out.
I have found that too often they are bent round by the growers to get them in the bag. Therefore, plant them so the soil mark on the stem is just a little lower in your rose bed.
Pruning is essential – every stem should be cut back to leave only three buds on each shoot. Try to choose an outward pointing bud at the tip of each shoot because if this is done, every rose will grow like mad.
In mid-April when the weather is nice and warm, scatter rose fertiliser over the surface of the soil using three/four ounces per square yard followed by a teaspoon of epsom salts around each bush. This will help the plants resist black spot disease.
Now, what about replacing dead roses in a rose bed?
Everyone knows that this is not always successful because of a disease called soil sickness.
However, there is a way around this problem.
Take out at least a gallon of soil where the new rose is to be planted. Then, dig out soil from another part of the garden and mix in four ounces of rose fertiliser – use this around the roots of the new rose.
If you would prefer roses in pots, now is the time to plant them too.
Choose a good-sized pot and fill it with John Innes number three compost mixed with 10 per cent potting sand because roses like to be in well-drained compost.
Also, little feet underneath the pots will ensure earthworms can't creep into the hole at the base of the pots.
When planting rose beds in parks, the soil is removed to a depth of roughly 15 inches and fresh soil or loam is put down in its place.
In your garden, you are doing the same thing but on a smaller scale.
Top tip: If you want to clean your pond, this should be done before the frogs and toads begin to spawn. If they are already active, simply remove sludge from the bottom of the pond, split up water lilies and re-plant them in baskets.