My order of roses from Trevor White arrived yesterday while I was out. None of the roses in the garden look anywhere near dormant yet, but as commercial growers they clearly don't want to hang about. I wonder if they use some sort of hormone spray to make them defoliate? I'd had an email telling me the order had been dispatched so their arrival wasn't a surprise and I'd already bought an extra bag of compost and primed the Systems Administrator to keep an eye out for the delivery.
At one level it seems a great waste to buy healthy, freshly lifted rose bushes and pot them up instead of getting them back into the ground with the shortest possible interruption to their growth. But a couple of these are destined for the side of the wood where the Systems Administrator is still clearing out the brambles, or was before going down with The Cold, and the others are replacements for the ones that were supposed to be growing up into the hazels behind the deck in the back garden, only they died. Whether or not doing the same thing over again and expecting different results is a definition of insanity, and whether or not Albert Einstein said it, I am not going to replant the replacements exactly as before and hope that they'll grow. I think I have worked out why the first batch didn't take, which is that it is too dark immediately behind the deck. Once they have grown a few feet they will be out of the shade and into the sun, and should do very nicely thereafter, just as 'Paul's Himalayan Musk' is rampaging up the wild cherry, but chicken and egg, until they have grown a bit they are in the dark and while they are in the dark they won't grow. Plan B is to start them off in pots and plant them out once they have made some height up their canes.
It is a very good plan, provided they do grow. A rooted cutting of 'Albertine' that was a present from a friend sat sulking in its pot and only sprang into life once planted out, when it trebled in size very quickly. But at the plant centre we used to have to prune the pots of climbing roses as they became unmanageable on the beds otherwise. I was hoping to see the manager at a Plant Heritage meeting to pick his brains about potting, since he once mentioned to me that they'd been potting Trevor White roses at the garden centre where he worked after leaving the plant centre, but he hasn't been along to the last few meetings. I shall just have to water religiously, fertilise generously in the spring and hope for the best.
The roses came with good big chunky root systems. The last plants I had from Trevor White were equally big, and I was very sorry about the two I managed to kill by degrees by planting them in the dark. The roots were actually so generous that I was scraping around trying to find pots big enough for them, and a couple ended up in clay pots I was saving for the dahlias. I don't see how my erstwhile manager could have fitted them into the standard two or three litre deep plastic pots that garden centres generally use for climbers, not unless they cut quite a lot of the roots off, which seems a waste. If and when I next see him I must ask him about that as well.
In the afternoon it rained and that was the end of my gardening for the day. I am afraid it says something about my enthusiasm for gardening versus housework that given a wet afternoon and the choice between washing my accumulated dirty plastic plant labels for re-use next season and cleaning the bathroom I opted for scrubbing labels.