Good Rose Parenting

Well Behaved Teenage Climber

Being a rose parent is a funny business. There are so many detailed books telling you exactly what to do when, and what never to do, to turn your treasured toddlers into tamed teenagers and thence into beautiful blooming adults.

Like a brand new parent you're oh so careful with the first rose, checking every leaf, just watering the base of the plant, even providing little food treats like chopped-up banana skins, comfrey tea, and so on. You're constantly on guard for dodgy fungal things, wind-rock, and any signs of fatigue. Good for you!

Rose Milestones

You take serious notice of rose milestones - the first bud, the first aphid - aargh! But the more you do it, though, the more you relax. By the fiftieth you're rather mellow, and a little irresponsible - plonk it in, tip a bucket of water on it, then hope you remember where you planted it. By the two hundredth you can hardly remember their names! Oops...

 Two Marys!
Mary Rose and Sport

Roses and Children...

There's a slight parallel here with raising real children, and some gardeners just have the knack. Their adult roses are serenely well groomed, fitting properly on their pergola, perfectly trained to drape around a window or cover an archway.

Like well-raised adult children they can be proudly shown off at gatherings - such a credit to you, you've brought them up so nicely...

I give my toddler roses lots of fresh air and sunshine, and often they just have to get on with 'it', unsupervised. So my newest two-year-old, Blackberry Nip, is at the moment invisible, completely swamped with Aquilegias - oops!

If I take in troubled adolescents, they, too, just have to put up with what they get. My latest rescue, Princess Diana, seems so grateful for fresh air and water that she's about to flower for me. She came here a sad mass of gnarly stumps.

 With a tendency to nip the mower of the lawns.
Free Spirited Adult Rambling Rose

To be serious for one minute, roses aren't as difficult to raise as gardening books would like you to believe - it's just a trick to get you to spend money. And you don't have to buy rose accessories - special food, sprays, fancy pruners, and so on. You might end up with a few untamed spreaders and thorny sulkers, but at least they'll be free-spirited. Roses are survivors, as can be seen, ironically, in many old cemeteries...

No 'Naughty Step' for Roses

Confused disciplinarians (and devotees of Super Nanny) will be relieved that there's no such thing as a 'Naughty Step' or 'Reflection Room' for a rose. In fact, it's perfectly OK (and not illegal) to threaten a misbehaving rose with blunt pruners or the chain saw.

 A delightful rose to grow.
Thornless Crepuscule

Some roses are unhealthy by nature, and need spraying with nasty chemicals every other day to perform half-decently. Decide if there's a place for such a rose in your family. If not, be ruthless! If a rose is just being a bit difficult, don't give up immediately - try a change of scenery. But if a teenage rose (through no fault of yours) totally sulks, get rid of it. No second chances. Bin it. Use the occasion to practice all the tough love you didn't (or don't) use in the real world...


Moosey has raised two Son-Of-Mooseys and one Daughter-Of-Moosey, plus nearly three hundred roses - from climbers to miniatures, bush roses to hybrid teas. She thinks she's been really successful...