May the roof above us never fall in
And may we good companions beneath it never fall out.

~Irish blessing

Friday, June 24, 2011

Planting Bare Rooted Roses

I have to admit I'm not the most patient gardener in the world. Seeds, I have patience with, and waiting for the right season or for slow things like carrots to grow. But once I think of something I'd like from the nursery I am out the door in a flash. A spare spot in the front garden emerges - we need a plant for that spot and we need it now. This is why when I found out my roses would be cheaper, and some rare varieties would be more readily available if I waited for bare-rooted, I had to pre-order, sit on my hands and wait.

There were already a couple of very pretty single white standard roses along the side of the house, but not much else to speak of other than weeds and grass when we moved in. We now have a trellis with some thriving creepers and hanging baskets, but I wanted something really pretty to view from the 3 tall windows that look out that side, plus a potted 'Dainty Bess' rose for the back.

Dainty Bess. Source:

I love the super thorny 'old world' single-petal roses. I've been championing roses and defending them in conversations for years. People used to go on about how difficult roses were to grow, needing so much pruning, watering, feeding, spraying etc. Then we had 13 years of drought in Melbourne with tough water restrictions, and nothing triumphed more than peoples' neglected front garden roses. Sophie Thomson on Gardening Australia actually pointed out a few weeks ago that roses are related to blackberries (they're both in the subfamily Rosoideae) and much tougher than people think. 

So after months of patiently waiting my roses arrived today. Well they actually arrived yesterday but I missed the courier. Being pretty inexperienced when it comes to bare-rooted anything (we did plant the bare-rooted quince last Winter but that's it) I was a little worried they may have dried out but when I opened them up they'd been well wrapped in wet newspaper and were heavy and moist. For anyone looking to buy interesting varieties of roses, I ordered ours from Magic Garden Roses in Healesville and their customer service has been fantastic. The photos and descriptions on their site, and the ability to search for terms like 'hardy climber' are really helpful and they have a huge range.

They have a 3 rose minimum order, so we decided on an Edith Holden climber to scramble up the trellis in front of the tall second bedroom window, a highly perfumed old world low growing 'Heidesommer' for outside the side door, and the Dainty Bess

Edith Holden. Source:

Weeks later though, I fell in love with a Comte de Champagne David Austin at our local nursery, not the single petaled sort of thing I usually go for but so beautiful, plus I had them for my wedding bouquet, so I emailed Magic Garden and they were happy to add one to my order which is perfect for some blooms to admire from the living room window.

David Austin 'Comte de Champagne'. Source:

The roses came with detailed instructions on how to proceed. As instructed I put them in a bucket of water for an hour.

It says not to add anything to the water, including Seasol. Good thing it said that or I would have, I am Seasol crazy. The planting instructions are also very thorough, but being such a devoted googler, I couldn't resist looking for a youtube video and found this great video from the San Jose Rose Garden.

Interestingly Magic Garden recommend holding off mulching the newly planted roses until the weather warms up. I was amazed at the way the guy in the San Jose video mulched up the rose he planted but I understand it's pretty hot and dry there. Since we're having such a cold, wet winter I went with Magic Garden's advice and left the mulch off for now. I did sneak a teensy bit of Seasol into the watering can when I watered it in. I couldn't help it.

Here is the Edith Holden climber in her new home. Named after the artist and author of The Country Diary of An Edwardian Lady. It has a beautiful rust coloured flower with a yellow centre. 

And the 'Dainty Bess', behind the lemon and lavender.

Magic Garden suggest fertilising them in September with 100g of organic fertiliser (Dynamic lifter, Amgrow's Organic Xtra or Terra Firma's Organic Life) which is when I imagine they'll start to put on some growth. I'll be sure to post updates on their progress.


  1. I've just popped in a couple of delicata rugosas and some stanwell perpetual spinosissimas (when I googled to get the name correct Magic Garden came up - I'll have to check them out). And excitement, I found a little thorny rose besides one of the old sheds last week. Have dug it up and will see what it turns into. Thanks for the link - your site is gorgeous (as is your home) and I feel very lucky. So far I've spent an hour going through your archives - will be back after some work! Alison

  2. Thanks Alison! How nice to hear from you. I really enjoy your blog and yearn for a beautiful country house and expansive garden like yours - maybe one day :) Looking forward to finding out what the rose you unearthed by the sheds will bring. Love these exciting little discoveries.