talking roses in June 2013


  • In the rose garden with Ludwig
  • Rose Care for June
  • Rose of the Month
  • News from our Rose centres

 “When the night has been too lonely And the road has been too long, And you think that love is only For the lucky and the strong, Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snows Lies the seed that with the sun’s love In the spring becomes the rose…. “

BETTE MIDLER’S song reminds us to plant roses to give us pleasure…

In the Rose Garden with Ludwig:

Driving through Gauteng lately, seeing the magnificence of the Floss Silk Tree (Brazilian Kapok) I wonder if we will ever have a rose tree of that size. It is actually an amazing tree and reading a bit more about it I learnt that the huge prickles (not thorns) just like a rose, actually serve to store water. Is that the actual reason that roses have prickles? This tropical tree is not evergreen. However, the bark of especially younger trees and the upper branches remain very green and do a lot of photosynthesizing until the next crop of leaves have sprouted. When I first saw this fascinating tree I was given the names Chorisia speciosa (which has officially been changed to Cheiba speciosa), Drunken Man’s Tree (originating in South America where it is known in Spanish as Palo Boacho translated meaning drunken stick) and also Kapok Tree. The very large Kapok tree however grows in the tropics of Asia and is Cheiba pentandra. In South Africa Kapok is often referred to as snow. It is clear that Kapok is the silk floss revealed when the fruit bursts open and is used to stuff mattresses. I suppose when the Malayan slaves in South Africa saw their first snow they said this is Kapok and that is how it came about and not the other way around. It is also interesting to know that Cheiba speciosa is botanically related to the Baobab tree Adansonia digitata.


Drunken Man’s Tree or Brazilian Kapok in full bloom

Actually we also have tree Dahlias. They grew to 5m in one season and are only flowering now.

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Tree dahlia in full bloom

And our roses have grown so well this past season that they compete with trees. ‘Rooi Rose’ which generally grows to shoulder height has outgrown our cashier, Emily Sthebe, by far.

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Emily reaching up to ‘Rooi Rose’



Emily posing with ‘Liz McGarth’

Coming into June, the official start of our winter, we still have lots and lots of magnificent, large blooms to pick.

My six month-old grandson Gabriel feels quite at home surrounded by so many roses.



Gabriel in his favourite spot….


This is how these outdoor normal garden rose blooms look when arranged for table decorations. They are for a function at the German School and I wonder if Gabriel appreciates that it is the school where he will likely spend 12 years of his life.



Gabriel amongst the garden rose arrangements


We have secured rose blooms to supply you with for any functions throughout the winter months.


In October when all roses are in full bloom even I get bedazzled and obviously overlook some very special flowering bushes. Now, when I come across such super performers I can fully appreciate them. Here are the images of roses that captured me this last week:



Cordwalles Centenary Rose






Johannesburg Sun



Golden Monica






Klerksdorp Horizon



Spiced Coffee


For this year at least it was opportune to have cancelled the rose tour to Germany. From all accounts, they are still experiencing winter weather.


Step by Step Rose Care for June:

If your roses are still flourishing there is not much to do in the rose garden in June except to enjoy the last blooms of summer.


Your roses might be in various stages depending on their growth, the recent fertilising and watering and obviously the climate.



Mister Lincoln still boasts many leaves, which are storing food for the winter



The lower leaves of Nicolette and Lisa are not black spot infected, but are yellowing from

maturity as they have done their duty converting sugar into starches and sent it down for winter storage



Iceberg: note the difference of every second row that has been hedge clipped



Simply Charming allowed to go into winter dormancy



This Bride’s Dream bush has produced hundreds of blooms over the season and carried on flowering into winter


Pruning or just cutting back roses in June in most regions when temperatures are still sufficiently high and there is moisture in the ground encourages the immediate sprouting of the eyes. However, without leaves on the remaining stems, such new shoots will mostly be blind and they would have diminished the stored food. These short blind shoots will eventually re-sprout in August, so it is not that the bushes are set back or will die, although they are bound to catch black spot or even worse, Downy Mildew in the winter rainfall region. The most suitable time for rose pruning is the second half of July. Pruning early in very cold regions such as Harrismith or Dullstroom does not encourage immediate sprouting, but may induce early sprouting in August only to be damaged by late frost.



A denuded rose plant re-sprouting before winter



A denuded rose plant re-sprouting before winter


If you are worried about their lack of performance, replant them according to the procedure we have detailed on our website:  Here is what one of our readers residing in Westville, Durban wrote.

“You won’t be surprised to learn that you’re right yet again.

When I asked you what I should do about my infestation with downy mildew you replied that I should bury cardboard boxes, fill them with potting soil, and plant the roses in the boxes. That would seem to be a crazy answer unless one interprets it as saying that my roses are under stress because of poor soil conditions, and that the stress makes them susceptible to disease.

You may have forgotten, or never known, that when we moved in here about thirty years ago there was no soil at all. The house was sliced into the top of a shale hill, and the bankside was raw shale. What I did was to dig the shale out (personally), in beds when I was still entirely vigorous, and in holes later, to thigh depth. Then I imported soil, mixed it with compost and supers, and so made beds in which the roses flourished for many years.

Since then I’ve been using a garden fork in the beds at pruning time, to loosen the top soil but in order not to disturb the “wood-wide web” below that level.

So when you recommended the box trick I got a strong labourer in, gave him a spade, and told him to dig. He got down to the level of the garden fork I’d been using. The rest, below that, is hard clay again. Heavens knows how good garden soil can transform itself into rock-hard clay! Anyway, I’m going to ask him to do all the beds, and we’ll see what the roses look like in spring. Thanks for your advice.”



Digging in an old rose bedding for new roses


I recently came across this information below, which coincides with my observation even though I didn’t know how it worked. I suppose this interconnection is difficult if each plant is in its isolated hole in rock-hard shale.


Carried out by researchers from the University of Aberdeen, the James Hutton Institute and Rothamsted Research, the study demonstrated that the plants are able to send warnings of incoming aphids to other plants connected to their network. The plants then send out a chemical signal that repels aphids and attracts wasps, a natural aphid predator. The research follows previous findings that have shown plants can communicate similar chemical warnings through the air. The new study says plants can connect with other via a common fungus known as mycorrhizae. “Mycorrhizal fungi need to get