It’s been a good year for the roses

Yellow roses
Yellow roses
Now is the time to get to grips with your strawberry bed.

BRIAN KIDD: Strawberry fields forever – but renew them every three years

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What a wonderful year for roses. Yes, the flowers went on and on and in many gardens the blooms are still beautiful.

Traditionally all types of hybrid tea and floribunda roses are pruned round about the end of February, but here in Portsmouth and Southsea we suffer from very strong winds. Do you suffer from the wind?

As soon as the roses have finished blooming – and I must stress this can be as late as Christmas – they need to be reduced in height by simply cutting off the top six to nine inches of growth. This old-fashioned practice prevents the stems rocking around in the ground.

You may have noticed a definite ring of soil where the stem enters the ground. If this is allowed to continue, the fibrous roots become detached from the plant.

This is not the time of year to use fertilisers because the plants are not absorbing them and the 
nutrients are washed out of the soil. But if we can get hold of some well-rotted manure, a four-inch top dressing over the top of the soil is a far better idea.

Fork the area gently and remove the weeds before adding the layer of manure.

If you have a small garden, a bag of well-rotted manure is available at your garden centre and if you ask they will take it to your car.

Some books suggest top dressing with home-made compost. This is okay providing there were no weeds put into the compost bin, but from experience I find that home-made compost causes a mass of chickweed over the soil and compost is best dug into trenches and covered with soil.

I know many of you wonderful readers enjoy my advice and I thank you, especially if you live in a flat and grow roses in pots.

Did you read the article about shaking the whole plant out of the pot, washing the pot and shaking off all the old compost?

I do hope you will do this and replace the old compost with John Innes number 3 compost, putting little feet under the pots to keep the earthworms from entering the holes in the base.

Just in case you don’t have any roses, have a look at roses in pots at your garden centre.

They all have labels so the trick is to look for floribunda roses. Choose your favourite colour but check to make sure the variety is perfumed,

Choose a plant which has thick sturdy stems. They are already pruned really hard and if planted during the next few weeks will thrive either in the garden border or in containers.