October is one of the best months of the year for southern hemisphere rose gardeners. That said, in Sydney the month was a little abnormal. Less sun, loads more rain than normal and wide temperature variations played havoc, especially with my newer bushes.
Conditions have favoured black spot, which was noticeably absent last spring. This led to the usual suspects requiring spray, and some unexpected ones too: Souvenir d'un Ami and La Passionata both suffered. In contrast, mildew (which is most common in dry weather, despite what its name implies) has been relatively absent.
The wild weather has proven yet again that established bushes with good root systems have a great capacity to cope, and even to thrive undrer pressure. This photo of Heritage shows a bush with at least 100 flowers in its first flush for the season - and their scent is detectable from several metres away:
Some of my new and trial varieties have offered their first photogenic blooms. You can see most of them on my 2004-5 trials page, but it's worth showing off this lovely specimen from Tropical Sunset:
One of the most-watched new David Austin releases, Jubilee Celebration, is gathering strength and repeat flowering at a rapid clip. This isn't the first excellent rose to be named in honour of Queen Elizabeth II. Whether it is a match for the venerable giant Queen Elizabeth (released 50 years ago this year) is debatable, but I think David has a winner here. The bloom pictured below is nothing out of the ordinary for an Austin, but the fragrance is a unique delight. Take the chance to smell it if you can!
Speaking of smelling the roses, a wonderful day trip from Sydney is the famous Kennerton Green garden at Mittagong, in the NSW southern highlands. It's about 75 minutes from the CBD by car. An entry fee of $6 allows you to wander many hedged formal gardens, some planted more than a century ago. Roses of the late 1800s and early 1900s are heavily featured. According to one of the gardeners, some of their varieties are lost from commerce and others are unknown even to them. The spring-only blooming varieties should be at their peak in early November. There is a lecture series in the gardens for 'The Passionate Rose Gardener' on 6 and 7 November, but at $300 you'd certainly want to be passionate!
For those less mobile, don't forget the lovely Rumsey rose garden within Parramatta Park in Sydney's west. I featured this in my December 2003 diary, but here's a reminder of how beautiful it looks at this time of year:
Have a great month.