Belfast Telegraph

Warm June means everything in the garden is rosy

By Jenna Gardiner

The heatwave has given a boost to the blooms at this year's Belfast Rose Week.

The recent sunny spell has given the breathtaking displays at Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park an extra lease of life.

Stephen Quinn, community parks manager for Belfast City Council, said: "The weather has been kind to us - it helps the blooms last a lot longer."

Some of the roses did bloom earlier than expected, but Stephen explained their modern flowers always bloom a few weeks later anyway, so there's plenty to look at and the beds are still full.

He added: "Roses are very resourceful and tough and any established ones have been fine in the heat.

"It's been incredible. We got blooms at the end of May, which isn't normal for us, you see that more in countries like Italy."

Gardener Eddie Brennan, who works in the park, said the George Best rose was now one of the most popular. He said: "We actually planted a lot more of it this year, and now have two full beds of the George Best rose due to the fact that a lot of people were asking to see it."

Visiting Belfast this week from Pennsylvania are Craig and Susie Cordell, who have been amazed by the Rose Week displays.

"It's beautiful," said Craig. "We get a lot of wildflowers back at home, but nothing like this at all, we're just admiring it all."

Also enjoying the blooms were Eleanor and Graham Lorimer from Ballymena, who are both keen gardeners.

"It's just fabulous here, we think it's so beautiful. Our own roses haven't been very successful, but we might learn a few tips here today," said Eleanor.

The Koshy family - Ancy, husband Matthew and daughter Heba (12) - are big fans of Rose Week and have been visiting the event for years.Originally from India but now living in Belfast, Ancy explained they are "really interested in gardening, especially roses because of the variety of colour".

For rose enthusiasts hoping to explore the park this week, a recommended route is to begin at the garden of Floribunda Winners and follow each garden by number, passing through the Fragrant Rose garden and ending up at the Historic Rose section.

But it is not all about admiring the flowers - there is live music each day, a mini-carousel, and children's entertainment.

A free shuttle bus runs every 20 minutes from the Belfast City Hall grounds (East), noon until 5pm.

Car parking is available in the main car parks and Rose Week car parks at Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park, and cars can drop off elderly or disabled visitors close to Wilmont House.

Top tips to ensure you’re coming up roses

Gordon Allen, gardener at Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park, offers the following advice:

1. January is the best time to start.

2. Remove any old, dead leaves in the flower bed as they can harbour disease.

3. Start pruning straight away - remove any dead wood that's in the rose bush.

4. Remove any stems in the middle of the rose bush, so that all of the stems are facing out.

5. Cut the roses down to approximately the third outward facing bud so they grow outwards.

6. In the spring time, as soon as the roses start to grow new leaves, spray them with fungicide to prevent blackspot.

7. On the next fungicide spray, usually around July, use greenfly killer to kill them as they appear.

8. Remove the dead heads of the flowers as they die throughout the summer. This allows the rose bush to put all of its energy into producing new flowers, so the roses will be more abundant.

9. Around October, cut them down to about a third of their original height to stop them blowing in wind, which loosens their roots.

10. To get more roses on each bush, apply a foliar fertilizer. This can only be done three times a year, but it makes them flower more abundantly.

Belfast Telegraph

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