Pershore trained and with over a decade of professional experience I was confident that my rose pruning was really rather good. Did I need a workshop on roses? Probably not, but there was a good lunch promised.

Well I was right about one thing. The lunch was fabulous.

Otherwise I was so, so wrong. Michael Marriott was there to blow all our preconceived and well taught ideas over the hills and far away. Only the best for the PGG on tour, Michael is one of the world’s most respected rose experts. He delighted in rubbishing all our set in stone rules on pruning. Forget cutting on an angle, flat is fine. No need to cut close to a dormant bud, a couple of cms of “peg” is perfectly ok. Crossing stems so long as they are not rubbing can be left well alone. 

The wonderful team at David Austin’s

But not cutting to an outwards facing bud, what is that all about. However that is what the great man was telling us and that is what the wonderful team at David Austin’s practise. And the living proof is there for all to see. Even at the beginning of February the gardens looked good.

Pruning is all about shape. Work out what shape you are trying to achieve and chop away. No myths and fairytales.

He touched briefly on soils and continually improving and mulching. At this point we were all back on familiar territory nodding sagely. Because the gardens at Albrighton are virtually a monoculture they have to spray several times a year but he told us that we should be keeping our roses so healthy no spraying should be necessary. If a rose was not performing replace it.

We got to manhandle and cut under supervision some ancient specimens, hoping that we hadn’t just destroyed an old and much sought after rare rose.

Shown hundreds of roses

We were shown the hundreds of roses already chosen for the David Austin Chelsea stand and had a peek at the thousands of rose seedlings already growing under lights for selection for new varieties.

We had travelled from far and wide to be there, from windy Yorkshire to sunny Dorset, from the depths of Essex to the wilds of Wiltshire and more in between. It is a great location to get to and wonderful to meet up with so many bewildered professional gardeners. Cameras came out to photograph various sticks masquerading as roses but  most photographed  was the lunch. Lunch was superb, delicious and a thing of beauty. No bowl of soup and bread from the chefs at David Austin’s, it was a two course affair served by the smiley ladies.

A brilliant day

I think it is fair to say that our day at David Austin Roses was a brilliant day, I thoroughly recommend it to anyone and everyone. I would also like to thank Tony for organising it, Richard, Steve and Michael for imparting all their years of knowledge and the kitchen staff for a stunning lunch and tea.

Tony threatened to run anyone over that hadn’t enjoyed it, there were no bodies in the car park as I left. 

A wonderful day

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