Rockvale Stone & Garden

Well into July now and still the odd mild day – as long as the sun shines I am happy – dull damp days do not inspire gardeners to work outside, but the perfect garden planning time.
Rose pruning: has started here even though Rose wood has not yet had severe hardening. The time by which Rose pruning should be completed, varies by several weeks from the warmest to coldest gardens – pruning should be done and dusted before bud burst.
Bush Roses: concentrate on clearing the centre of the bush. Remove all inward facing branches at an outward facing bud, prune height back by two thirds – always at an outward facing bud and remove any old and damaged branches. Brush old gnarly Rose centres with a wire brush to stimulate and encourage new budding.
Floribunda Bush Roses:- like Iceberg- with a number of blooms on one stem, need a few older branches taken right back each year to encourage new strong branching and newer branches taken back by two thirds.
Hybrid Tea Roses: These are the Roses that grow a single exhibition bloom on a stem. These Rose bushes can be pruned back quite hard to an outward facing bud.
Standard Bush Roses: Same as Bush Roses.
Climbing Roses: These Roses flower at their best when the branches are trained horizontally along a fence or wall. These branches will develop small branches along the length to carry the flowers. After a number of years, a main horizontal branch will become unproductive and need to be removed and replaced with a new branch – to be trained gently out to take its place. The new branch will bud up quickly, sending out small outward growing branches to harden off in a couple of years. To prune established horizontal branches, take the outward growing branches back to the second out facing bud, closest to the main horizontal branch.
Pillar Roses: These are the best type to climb up and be trained over an arch or pergola. I cut the old growth back from these with a hedge trimmer.
Fairy Rose and Flower Carpet Roses: These I also cut back with a hedge trimmer, but open them up by removing branches from the middle with secateurs.
Every Rose will benefit from a dressing of manure enriched compost, needing to be there long before we think it is needed. Now is the time…
The bulk of new seasons bare rooted deciduous trees are arriving into retail shops now. Make sure to read the labels and know how high and wide a Shrub / tree will grow – some grow fast and when mature, will throw considerable shade. When planting alongside the house – ask advice. Plant while the soil is soft and moist, but avoid times when the ground is frozen or excessively wet. Young deciduous trees and Shrubs can be moved at this time. Trim damaged roots and cut back any that are inconveniently long.
Evergreen trees and shrubs are on offer as well. Choose now, but don’t be in a hurry to plant them if ground is frozen – they will continue happily in a bag and if in a grow bag, can be planted bag and all in the ground when ground softens in colder areas.
Small garden deciduous trees available locally: Robinia lace Lady , pretty, small twisted branching, nice shape, Robinia mop top gives privacy along a fence top, leaving planting area below, Kilmarnock Willow, a ground growing Willow grafted onto a standard, ornamental, but will get wider each year. Gleditsia emerald green – weeping ornamental on a standard, lovely by a pond. Cornus pendula, weeping ornamental, waxy white flowers – very pretty.
Compost heaps will have stopped working now, but worms will still be working as long as there is adequate moisture. Straw is a good cover for heaps, still letting rain in.
Boost Winter flowering bedding plants with fish based fertiliser or a little dried blood to encourage buds during sunny Winter days.
This mild Winter weather has been kind to producing vegetable gardens – time to work in some manure enriched compost in readiness for Spring planting.
In cold areas – if ground is frozen, start Garlic off in containers and plant out later when the ground warms up. Here on the coast if your Strawberry patch is manured and ready, plant new Strawberry runner plants while the ground is soft and moist.
Plant deciduous Fruit trees and bushes in a sunny site. Avoid frosty hollows for early starters – such as Plums and Pears. Frosty sites are no disadvantage for soft fruits, as Winter chills will stimulate Fruit buds.
The best time of the year to prune Fruit trees. Early to Late Spring -Peach and Nectarine trees. This will allow the wounds to close faster as growth begins. Early Spring also allows you to see how many flower buds have survived the cold weather. Early Spring for Plums as well. They should also be pruned to maintain an open centre and don’t let your Plum tree branches too close to the ground. The best fruit often grows at the top, so keep the tops down, making fruit easily accessible. Plum and Apricot. Remove about 20% of last year’s growth. Cherries only -Summer prune the first 5 years.
It’s a Winter prune for Apples and pears. You will want to cut away any overly vigorous stems which are unusually high. Remove about 20% of last year’s growth.
Cheers, Linda.

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