Help with old garden roses

Oana Belgium, 8b
November 28, 2019
last modified: November 28, 2019

Hi, I bought a house a year ago and the previous owners, big lovers of old roses, have planted a small bed with a Constance Spry, A Shropshire Lad and not one, but two Honorine de Brabant. All of these grow quite tall and of course compete for the meter square space so I was thinking of building a structure to tie them on. So far so good but my issue is the small number of blooms on all of them. Perhaps anyone could give me some tips on how to increase that bloom count.

1. HdB looks interesting, smells very nice but I got at most 5 concomitant flowers on both bushes all last summer. Yes they bloomed all summer but still, a few sticks with fast fading flowers on top are not exactly pretty. So I was thinking of pegging them. Did anyone here try it?

2. Due to me not knowing what it was, poor Constance Spry was pruned 15-20 cm from the ground like my mom, grandma, great grandma etc always did with roses before winter. Afterwards, during the cleanup, I found the tag and google showed me that not all roses are born equal. Oops. So no flowers this year and it gets to be trained on a nearby fence next to a dark red clematis. Any tips for the new canes? Is this one worth keeping in the garden? I get the historical value but I am more a fan of ADR/label rouge roses and lots of perfumed flowers all summer long.

3. The A Shropshire Lad is a fantastic survivor, I made lots of mistakes with it -> radical pruning, broken canes, no fertiliser or any type of treatment but still it was heavy with small blooms on the tips of spindly canes too thin to hold them up. It’s very prone to blackspot as luck will have it but I’d like to keep it if I can find a non toxic solution. A sucker appeared at some distance and I was curious what a sucker blooms like (we never graft roses in my country of origin, or buy them as a matter of fact, or spray them or do anything except butchering them in the fall). It blooms just like the main rose :) so I guess despite the nice lady from David Austin saying otherwise, it developed its own roots.

4. In addition I have a Bobby James jaw dropping gorgeous for 2 weeks when in bloom but full of mildew otherwise and a nightmare to prune. I will have to remove it and am looking for a replacement resistant to diseases that blooms repeatedly, preferably perfumed. A wow factor for the terrace. I cannot use chemical treatments since my kids eat the wild strawberries growing under it all year long and the sodium bicarbonate solution is great but not feasible to apply it every other week on three tons of unreachable foliage.

As prize for reading this far, I’ll tell you about the old rose that nobody knows who planted it and what it is. I found it >6m tall, the 7 canes were actually like tree bark, spread sporadically over 3m large and blooms were perfumed, lemon yellow with orange on the outside petals but too far to be enjoyed. So the previous owners decided to add on the same wall a trumpet vine and two wisterias. Yes, two. All competing for half of meter width between the wall and stair banister. I, true to form, hacked the rose to the ground almost, rerouted the wisterias and am planning to get rid of the trumpet vine this winter too. Nice thing but sprouted all over my and my neighbours lawns. So the rose put up this year dozens of new fresh canes that grew around 3m tall and are waiting to be trained on wires. Hope I’m not making yet another beginner mistake. So a happy new beginning for the old friend.

I hope I can find some answers here :) Thank you, Oana.

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