Cyril Quinn, owner of Springrowth Garden Centre, says now is the perfect time to prune roses back to give them a good start to life.
He said: “I would give shrub roses a good hard pruning around this time of year, cutting them back to between 12-18 inches in height.
“First, I would remove any dead and dying branches, these will be clearly visible as they will be brown or black. Cut all the way back to where the branch is green and white inside. As well as being unsightly dead branches can encourage disease.
“When I am cutting back other branches, I look for a bud facing out and make my cut above it, usually no more than 5mm above the bud. This is to reduce die back and ugly black ends. I would also remove a branch or two if there’s to many growing in the same direction or to one side of the shrub.
“Thinning out excess branches will let air circulate better and help reduce risk of fungal diseases. God knows roses can be fickle and our damp climate doesn’t help.
“Pruning helps with appearance so they are more sturdy and lets the air in through them. They get too tall and spindly if they aren’t pruned around this time. When they’re too tall, they rick around and loosen the soil and water can go straight down to the roots. That would waterlog the soil. It’s too late for it now but you should also prune them in November too. I was told years ago that that stops the water going down into the roots and freezing and damaging the roots there.
“Check also for branches growing from below the base of the shrub or out from the roots, those ‘suckers’ are usually strong and healthy. This is because they are getting nutrients from the roots before they travel up the plant and therefore deprives the rest of the plant of the nutrients.
“Speaking of nutrients, this is also a good time to feed your roses, farmyard manure is perfect for this job. Spread around the base of your roses and fork it in. Your roses will thank you when they flower.
“There’s different ways to propagate roses too. We usually buy them in here and they’re grafted already to a rootstock. They’re bred to be disease resistant and adapt to different conditions. The top part isn’t as tough as the bottom part because of this.
“A lot of people get cuttings from other peoples gardens and stick it straight into the ground or into a pot but I would recommend using a bit of rooting powder if you’re going to do that. Some people just stick it in a glass with water but that doesn’t always work or people put it in a spud and then stick that into the ground but I’ve never done that myself.
“Now is a great time for strawberries too. You can grow them from seed, if you get a strawberry plant and slice the seeds off. You have to wait a while for them to germinate so you’re better off just buying a plant. They’re quite cheap, around £1.50 a plant. You can grow them in a raised bed, a hanging basket or just in an ordinary pot but the most important thing is not to let them dry out, keep them nice and moist.