Not Always a Bed of Roses

I may have been enthusing over the cutting beds and July blooms generally in recent weeks, but not everything in the garden is lovely. In particular, the roses in the troughs on the paved area just aren’t working and look (to me!) a mess, as shown by the lanky stems of ‘Harlow Carr’ and ‘Little White Pet’ (below), and the arid pot of ‘Sweet Dreams’ below that:

In its metal tub, the latter in particular will have suffered from the hot summer – and knowing how well other roses did when moved to the shrub border from other containers I am not sure why I then put these roses into containers in the first place! After our second group visit this week these roses will therefore be on the move, the first two to the shrub border and to an as yet undetermined location for Sweet Dreams. There are currently trailing fuschias in the largest tub with Harlow Carr but I will need to find summer occupants for the others and plan accordingly for next summer.

You live and learn – as I have also learned about Nasturtium ‘Cherry Rose’ which sadly is not really PINK, defeating the intended outcome of pinkness weaving through the pastel blooms of the main borders. Orange does not quite ‘cut the mustard’ so to speak, and that idea will not be repeated. Ironically, it does look almost pink in my photographs, as presumably it must also have done in the seed catalogues!

Also not working is the concept of multiple seed plugs, like the Trixi ‘Crazy Cocktail’ plugs I trialled in the conical baskets hanging above the bold borders. Described as ‘Deep purple Calibrachoa is perfectly contrasted with zingy yellow Bidens, combined with bright rose-red clusters of Verbena for a psychedelic effect’: brilliant in theory, but in practice the bidens dominated the baskets, largely to the exclusion of the verbena and calibrachoa, and I shall create my own combinations next year instead.

Nearly forget to mention (so this is added later) the grasses added to the rose garden – around the edges Uncinia rubra from my own divided plants is not yest established and in the two central beds the 10 small Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ plants added are still, well small, or smaller than small – the one shown here is bigger than most! Hopefully the others are still alive and will establish better once the weather is cooler and damper. Also unsuccessful was using rainbow chard in the borders as the straggly plants made no significant impact and won’t be used ornamentally next year.


I have worked hard to fill gaps in the borders this year but struggled particularly with appropriate front of border plants – and realise that the more satisfactory borders are those that haven’t relied on lower growing plants next to the paths. In visiting other gardens recently I have seen several examples of successful borders filled just with medium and tall plants and this is what I shall work towards in the future. Also, as plants fill out and mature I can already see that the borders will still work well with fewer plants, fewer but bigger, so being more selective looks set to become an aim for the future too.

Living and learning, that’s what it’s all about, especially as far as gardens are concerned!

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29 Responses to Not Always a Bed of Roses

  1. nancytol says:

    Mmm – perhaps metal containers may just be heating up too much in the sun – and warming the compost that the roses are in? Maybe try insulating the outside rim of the container next time you use it?

    • Cathy says:

      I am sure this will have had something to do with it, particularly with Sweet Dreams as the container is fairly thin galvanised zinc. It will be fine for petunias or other annuals next year!

  2. It is always a learning experience in the garden. The heat and drought here has my garden looking woeful this summer.

  3. Always learning in the garden, part of frustrating?! fun? What Bidens is that?

  4. Anna says:

    When it comes to gardening it’s most definitely a case of lifelong learning. I think those roses will enjoy their liberation and will thank you profusely next year.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Anna, and I am sure you are right that they will be much happier next year with more soil and less well insulated toes!

  5. Chloris says:

    I have never had any success with roses in containers, they are much happier in the ground.

  6. Annette says:

    Trial and error, success and failure – that’s what it’s all about. Not everything is working out as planned but this gives us a chance to reconsider and dream of new combinations in the future. I^’ve planted ‘almost black’ coreopsis, papaver somniferum and tropaeolum in pots. The caterpillars munched the tropaeol., the coreopsis has the tendancy to lie down…waiting for the poppy seedpods to ripen, then I shall replant the mess. Keep your chin up, plenty to enjoy in your beautiful garden πŸ™‚

    • Cathy says:

      Oh yes indeed, Annette – rarely is my head down, except for watching my step around the garden and admiring low growing beauties!!

  7. I’m a fairly new gardener so it’s great to see that other people also have these problem areas, and things that just don’t work out.

  8. Jacqueline. says:

    J’aime beaucoup les plantations en bassines de zinc… Une belle mise en valeur

  9. Pauline says:

    We all make mistakes, that’s how we learn!

  10. Cathy, I am a very little experienced gardener and I see that I am not the only one who makes mistakes. But that’s how you learn. I think the roses are fine on the floor and not in a metal container that with this heat heats the land of roses and makes them bad. But your garden is beautiful and you should be proud of it. Greetings from Margarita.

  11. Brian Skeys says:

    Every days a School day Cathy! At least you are prepared to share you problems as well as your success. Harry Wheatcroft use to maintain roses can be successfully grown in pots with root pruning every three years, I guess it is as others have mentioned the metal pots have got to hot this summer.

  12. I hope your group visits go well, Cathy.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Kate, second and last today – will report back soon! Likewise with yours, of course, although you are a dab hand at group visits already!

  13. I agree with all you say, having experienced so many similar situations myself! But that’s gardening! Be patient with your Hakonechloa- I’ve grown it in several places to great effect, and it does take a while to establish. Even from runty little specimens!

    • Cathy says:

      Oh that sounds more promising – There are 10 planted there and could all be described as runty little specimens, some runtier than others!

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