Rose pruning in January

Growing up in southern California, my best friend’s mom always used to prune her roses on 1 Jan, while we were watching the Rose Parade on TV.  She’d bring in several vases full of her lovely sprays of blooming roses year after year while my friend and I sat and marvelled at the imaginative floats covered in exotic plant materials and eating our warm cinnamon mountains.  Wow, those were the days!

Back to 2014… This weekend I forced myself to forget about the brambles and anemone for the time being to do something more fun.  Since we’ve had such a mild winter, I let myself be inspired by some rose pruning videos from the Royal Horticultural Society.  So out came the gloves and clippers, sorry secateurs.

But I think 1 Jan is a wee bit too early to prune roses in Scotland, so I usually hold off until February or so.  However, my gardener friend who looks after Princes Street Gardens and their roses, told me that with warm winters I can prune earlier.  That’s what I did last year, so I hope my bushes are safe this year too!  We’ll see.

I didn’t realise just how mild it has been, until I was cutting off branches down to fairly big and developed buds with aphids safely tucking into my roses’ baby leaves!  Hmmmm, I don’t like aphids at all.  Every year I buy ladybug, sorry ladybird, larvae as soon as possible (they go on sale in early May) and strategically put them on patches of aphids.  And every year I have to really hunt to find early colonies of the leaf-sucking intruders upon which to lay my juvenile ladybirds.  I can’t recall ever seeing adult aphids ‘wintering’ on my plants before and certainly not in such large numbers.  Does this mean we’re in for an explosion of the pests this spring?  I hope not, but again we’ll see.


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