The easiest way to garner esteem from other gardeners is to prune your roses properly. You can do this in two ways; firstly you can hire a professional who will either do a decent job or conduct an inept massacre. Moreover they will consume a fair amount of tea. Otherwise you’ll have to bite the bullet, gird your loins and drink the bloody tea yourself.
Daffodils mean springtime
Pick a sunny day without much wind. Whatever the weather we’re going to be lashed by thorn encrusted branches, so let’s start without adding to the level of difficulty. Hold on to the thought that we’re doing this to maximise the number of velvet, fragrant blooms and to make the plant produce them on a compact frame, low enough to see. Cut out dead or diseased stems, then any spindly growth which whilst not amounting to much in the way of leaves or flowers, will have an unfair quantity of needle sharp fish hooks, cunningly concealed. At this stage, go back to the shed and get your rubber coated gloves. Try to remember when you last had a tetanus jab. On established roses, saw out old wood that’s not shooting now, or failed to perform well last year. Using sharp secateurs or loppers, trim remaining growth 5mm (¼ in) above a dormant, outward facing bud. Remove anything growing towards the centre of the plant in order to improve air circulation, thus reducing the chance of fungal incursion and other maladies.
Helleborus ‘White Beauty’ (Lenten roses)
Throw down your inadequate, possibly pink hand protectors and get your leather gauntlets. Remove suckers by pulling them away from the rootstock. Failure to do this will result in the expensive specimen that you want, being subsumed by the vigorous variety upon which it has been grafted to make sturdy roots. This is usually a wild rose which although pretty in its way, has underwhelming blossom and is armed with daggers and bayonets by nature. Climbing and rambling roses, take out a couple of old stems, as close to the ground as possible. If there is only one stem, shorten it by one third; if you cut it too fiercely, you may kill the whole damned thing. Trim off any damaged stems but don’t give it a haircut all over. It may have spent ten years in reaching the eaves of your home, so don’t waste it. Tie the remaining stems to whatever ramshackle support you have available. If possible, secure arching stems horizontally or bend them gently back towards the ground, which encourages flowering shoots.
When the carnage is over, apply fertilizer to the roots and sticking plasters to yourself. Last year I went shopping for vital supplies, by way of light relief after a hectic chopping session. Whilst queuing at the checkout clutching several trays full of cut price tinned kitty mush, the man behind me said “What have ‘e got at home, a lion?” I displayed the hard won wounds which striped my arms. “Yes, I don’t mind the food bills, but worming the big bugger is a bitch.” His face showed an inordinate amount of respect.