Roses, Roses, Roses...

I've always had a rather casual attitude to the archway climbing roses in the orchard. I've expected them to live an independent life out in the fresh air - to behave and bloom, and not need any looking-after. And while some have moved in and got on with it, yet others have been needy, difficult tenants. I've had some failures, deaths even (RIP, Gloire de Dijon and climbing Lady Hillingdon). I've planted new arrivals and recycled replacements, and some of these, too, have bitten the dust.

I've weeded and mulched underneath, I've tied in canes, I've even watched a video on how to rejuvenate old climbers, and acted on it. I've watered in the dry months of summer, checked for aphids, and sprayed for rust. I've tried to prune things properly.

No Sulking, Please!

Some (like Teasing Georgia) have sulked and gone nowhere, while others (like Parkdirektor Riggers) have shot up and out, over-powering their sturdy metal arches. Easleas Golden Rambler was so vigorous he had to be removed. Sir Edmund Hillary, a modern climber, has never really been bothered to take up the challenge. His namesake would be horrified! And two climbing Ustersens have refused to climb at all. They are still only waist high after ten happy years, but they flower so well I've forgiven them. Waste of an archway, though!

Flowers (like those of Souvenir de la Malmaison) have balled and rotted disgracefully, and my criticism has offended European old rose lovers. Roses have had the wrong labels - hello, rose that isn't Handel. And I've misnamed others - though finally I've been able to identify the beautiful once-flowering Alchymist. Gush, gush - an amazing sight in bloom. And silly, silly me. I originally thought it was David Austin's Abraham Darby. English roses can grow tall in New Zealand garden conditions, but not to three metres!

Some roses have filled out effortlessly, covering themselves in healthy foliage for months on end - that's you, beautiful Chislaine de Feligonde. Others (hello, Madame Caroline Testout) can go completely bald in a week.

The Wind!

Then there's the wind (which one year gave poor Phyllis Bide a rather serious pruning) and the spraying regime of the orchardist (Non-Gardening Partner) which can take the blame for several demises. Birthday Present has stalled, as has the pretty pink Awakening. Celine Forestier always looks half-sick, no matter what I do or don't do.

Thank heavens for the uncomplicated Westerland, Crown Princess Marguerita, and Bantry Bay. So it's not all doom and gloom. Star of Holland is very pretty, and I love the fruity singles Meg and Summer Wine.

Stop and Smell the Roses...

Each year I promise to do better rose maintenance and take more photographs, and to spend more time in the orchard enjoying the archway roses blooming. I need to stop and smell the roses more. And I must remember that one tends to get out what one puts in. As with life, so with roses.