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David Austin rose looking sickly

Hi Gardeners! I am a new gardener tending to my very first garden. Have inherited this David Austin rose (variety Crown Princess Margareta) and the leaves are looking a bit sickly. It has flowered consistently throughout summer and flowers smell lovely. But leaves look sick? 

I would also also be very grateful for advice about pruning and how I might make it look less leggy? 

Thanks! 😊


  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,626
    Looks like a nasty case of black spot which is a fungal disease.   Remove any fallen leaves and bin or burn but don't compost them.  I suspect it has been stressed by thirst in hot spells and having grass growing right up to its stems will be too much competition for water and nutrients so, for now, give it a good bucketful of water - about 10 litres - and repeat weekly till you get some steady rain.

    Cut a circle around it, at least 30cm/12" radius and lift the grass within it then ligtly fork over the soil to loosen it and give it a handful of bonemeal which will help the roots.  You don't want to be encouraging new growth up top as it won't have time to mature before the winter frosts.   Once autumn is well under way you can give it a good mulch of well-rotted garden compost or manure and then another in spring.

    This rose can happily grow to 3.5m tall so I would release it from that small, restrictive obelisk and give it a much larger one or, better still a trellis panel of some sort or an arch so you can spread its stems diagonally.  The more horizontal you can get the main stems, the more flowering shoots they will form.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Joy*Joy* Posts: 571
    It's got black spot rather badly. The flowers are rain damaged. It looks very old and a bit neglected but it ought to be possible to get it back into better order. I would follow Obelixx advice about removing the grass around it. I would also water a bit more often than once a week though and releasing it from its obelisk now will be complicated so I'd wait until it has become dormant. Do get rid of all the leaves as they fall off and despite not being a keen user of chemicals,  I would spray the whole tree and the ground beneath it with a good fungicide.  Next year, I would take some cuttings in case you do lose the tree. The top looks pretty good but reducing the height might kill it altogether as the old wood looks as though all the buds have already produced shoots.  Getting the live shoots horizontal will help the vigour of your rose but you will need to give it support and lots of space. If you do get cuttings going, by this time next year you might be able to move it into a better place and if it is too much for it, you will at least have some rose trees which wont have wild suckers! 
  • hatty_hatty_ Posts: 99
    edited August 2019
    Thank you so much @Obelixx and @Joy* for taking the time to write such helpful responses. I really appreciate it. Thank you. 

    I have dug a circle around the rose and given it a good drench with a bucket. See photo attached. Does this look ok?

    I am slightly perplexed as to why the previous home owners chose to plant a rose in the middle of the lawn (photos attached to show wider garden for
    context). I don’t mind it there, just think it’s an odd position? Do you think that it would be possible to move the entire rose plant to a border where I could release it from its cage and give to more space or would that kill it?

    I’d also be keen to know what in your opinion is the best way to take rose cuttings? 

    Thank you 🌹
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,626
    Well done, but I think the circle needs to be twice as wide.   I think, when it's dormant in late autumn, you may be able to move it so think about where you want it to go, making sure there's pleanty of space to provide support for training the stems wider and then get a good hole prepared - dig it over, remove weeds and rubble, enrich with well rotted manure.

    Some time in mid November, give the roots a good drenching and then cut back the thickest brown wood stems to the base or just above an outward facing bud if you can see one.    That will make it easier to remove the obelisk along with the cut stems.

    Then dig out the rootball with as much root as you can.  They can go quite deep so you may need secateurs or loppers to hand to cut out any stubborn ones.  Then carry it quickly to its new home, plant it as deep as it was before - there'll be a soil mark - and firm it in gently with your boot then water well.   If you have some, scatter some microrhizal fungae directly on the roots.   You will, effectively, be treating it as a new bare root rose so you can prune all the remaining stems back to a couple of buds above the base.   Sprinkle on some bonemeal to help the roots, water again and then mulch with compost or manure.

    For cuttings, take pencil length and thickness stems from the tops of the green stems.  You need to cut them straight across just below a bud and at an angle above a top bud.  Keep them in a jar of water if you can't do the next step immediately as you don't want them to dry out.  You can then put them round the edge of a plant pot filled with loamy compost such as John Inees no 2 or else use your spade to make a deep slit in a bright spot out of direct sun, pour some grit or sand in the bottom and slide you cuttings in so that just an inch or so is above soil level.   Water and firm in well and leave alone for a year.

    There's plenty of info about planting and caring for roses on teh David Austin website - tho they won't, of course, tell you how to do cuttings.   

    Info about that on the GW website - 
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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