Celebrating over 50 years of Peter Beales Roses   •  Passionate about roses since 1968
Celebrating over 50 years of Peter Beales Roses
Celebrating over 50 years of Roses
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The Chelsea Chop

05/06/2020 11:48

Normally by now the Roses would have returned from the RHS Chelsea flower show and if they hadn’t already had the Chelsea Chop, then they would be trimmed over the next few weeks.

“What is the Chelsea Chop?” I hear you all ask.

When we break our stand down at the end of the Chelsea Flower Show most of the shrubs and some climbers will be cut down very heavily for ease of transporting them home.

Although the big flower shows have been cancelled this year, I have still been doing something similar to invigorate the plants into new growth. This helps to form bushier and hopefully more compact shrub plants.

While we aim for more manageable shrubs, this hard prune should also encourage climbers and ramblers into producing lots of long straight stems. Some of the ramblers have already put on nearly 7 ft of new growth! 

 Roses after the Chelsea Chop

Due to lock-down the Garden Centre had lots of Dahlia tubers and trays of herbaceous plants and herbs that had become untidy. They arrived here in batches and were cut back and re-potted. With a good liquid feed they have come back into growth very quickly and some are even flowering again. Meanwhile I potted the Dahlia tubers and these have put on a lot of growth, although some produced just a single stem. I have cut the top off of these to encourage lots of side shoots and in turn flowers.

 Plants cut back and re-potted

The Banksia cuttings from earlier in the year are mainly growing as long single stems, so I have cut the tips off these also to boost side shoots low down and to later produce multi-stemmed plants.

While I am in full swing with pruning and tidying up, I have even offered to trim the wife and our girl’s hair at home. Sadly I cannot write the reply here, so I had better get back to the plants before they change their minds also.

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Posted in Articles about Roses By Michael Baldwin - Head of Hybridising

Seedlings and hybridising

29/04/2020 15:27

On our show plant and hybridising nursery, which is separate and isolated from our main nursery, we are down to a skeleton crew.

Just me.

So without the major spring flower shows to look forward to it seems very quiet here at the moment, but the plants keep some kind of normality to life. The seedlings are now growing lovely and hybridising has started. Bringing us full circle.

Rose seedlings

Did you know some roses like Rosa banksiae can only be produced from cutting? These cuttings were moved from modular cells to small pots in late February and will shortly need repotting again.

Rose banksiae cuttings

Even with roses getting a dry feed over winter we weekly liquid feed for strong even growth and any plants looking off colour also get a folia feed with liquid sea weed or similar which can also help against diseases.

I like to think that the plants need their liquid feeds, like we need a cup of coffee for that little lift after a hard day.

Why do we feed weak and weekly and not full strength every other week? Well, the simple answer is I don’t have to remember which week it is. Something that can be a bit of a challenge for all of us at the moment during these crazy times.

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Posted in Articles about Roses By Michael Baldwin - Head of Hybridising

Yes with the warmer weather the rose seed from our hybridizing programme is germinating quickly and this is always a very thrilling period. Each group of seed created by crossing different rose varieties germinates at varying rates and some will not germinate at all.

Certain roses only produce sterile seed and once a pattern is noticeable those varieties will be withdrawn from the hybridizing programme. Although sometimes it is only a particular cross that is sterile and when these roses are crossed with a different variety the seed can have a great germination rate.

Currently I am also using an old seed bed to stand container roses on and even after 3 years there is still the odd seed germinating! Although these will normally turn out to be weak seedlings that never make a plant. This delayed germination is a survival technique used by most plants so not all their seed is dependent on one year.

You may have noticed my dog Ginny in a photo or 2 recently on Facebook and my Cat Lucy, who was desperate to out shine her during a video we did on pruning, but I also have 14 geese that I regularly talk to and call my lawn movers. Hopefully this is not a sign that I’m going mad!

The Geese are very good at multitasking and while cutting the grass they also keep away unwanted visitors away, as well as enchanting local school children on their way to school. The best thing about them though has to be soft boiled Goose eggs. Provided I find the eggs before Ginny!

Today the gander was standing guard over 2 of his ladies and that means the first goslings of the year.

Rose Seedlings



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Posted in Articles about Roses By Michael Baldwin - Head of Hybridising

It’s a hard life being a pampered show plant with no show to go to.

It’s been a challenging couple of weeks, with things changing almost daily.

Things started off very relaxed as most of the roses were coming back into growth evenly and in good shape. Many were also showing very early signs of bud initiation.

This can vary and some years plants will come back into growth very unevenly and may have a large percentage of blind shoots that start to grow. Blind shoots are stems that produce no flowering buds, but instead end in a leaf. This is usually due to harsh winter weather, or the age of the plant.

Normally a light pruning will kick start the plant back into growth and isn’t an issue for our show roses, provided we get our timings right!

Well, it was nice to keep our heads buried in the sand for a little while, but sadly the news arrived that we were all dreading and expecting.

All early flower shows, including the RHS Chelsea Flower Show have been cancelled.

So from keeping plants warm and pampered, in order to speed up growth and flowering, to suddenly opening up the vents and doors as much as possible to slow growth down.

It feels completely wrong when walking the nursery last thing at night and seeing vents left open for show plants. This shouldn’t normally happen until at least late April!

The aim now is to adjust the growing conditions in order to ready the roses for the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, in the hope that this event may still go ahead. As it Hampton is held later in the season, this means adjusting the growth of the plants accordingly.

The plants with lots of growth are still in the glasshouses. To harden off before they can be put outside to join the rest of the roses. As I move the roses outside, I try to keep the thirstier one together near the taps. Keeping the plants spaced out in blocks means quicker watering, as well as forming a micro-climate around themselves so that they cope better with hot weather, whilst also cutting down on watering.

Specimen climbers in small pots have also been put onto capillary matting, which holds water for the plants.

The sudden drop in temperature recently put the plants under stress and within 12 hours powdery mildew started to show up all over the place. The plants had plenty of air movement though, as well as being healthy and had recently been given an overhead liquid feed, so the mildew failed to establish and died out.

On a more cheerful note I feel spring is really here now as the seed from the last years hybridizing are germinating and some have even got true leaves showing! Summer warblers are now singing in the hedge behind the nursery and my favourite signs of spring are about, including the odd butterfly and a bee fly, Britain’s answer to a Hummingbird. I’m just watching now for the swallows and their kin.

Well I’d better leave it here for now as I need to grease some vents and oil some doors, as the extra work they are now getting has made them start to complain and squeak.

Chelsea Blog 2020

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Posted in Articles about Roses By Michael Baldwin - Head of Hybridising

When growing show plants, hygiene and air movement are vitally important. Even at this time of year. So, before the roses are housed, all glasshouses and equipment are fully cleaned.

There are also some roses that never fully drop all their leaves and leaf stalks during the winter. As well as the odd hip and old flower stem which may still be left after the winter pruning. These are all places where pests and diseases could overwinter.

Therefore, since starting to house the roses, we have been checking each plant to remove any old leaves, hips and unwanted wood.

Good air movement is also very important, as damp stagnant air is the quickest way for fungal attacks to start.

Watering is kept to mornings, often using watering cans for spot watering rather than hoses, so less water is spilled on the floor. This helps to maintain a dryer atmosphere at night, when the vents are closed down. Also in the glasshouses we keep the plants well-spaced out and any types that may be slightly more prone to disease are positioned near doorways where the most air movement occurs. This may not fully stop problems but will help or delay them.

Similar practices are also advisable for the roses in your garden at home.

Simply by raking up any old leaves and clearing away all debris from pruning can help reduce the risk of disease. Any black spot should be removed and either thrown away or burnt. Never put these in your compost bin as the spores could later be reintroduced to your garden.

You may also consider pruning any dense areas of growth or crossing branches to improve air circulation.

Preparing for Chelsea - good hygiene

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Posted in Articles about Roses By Michael Baldwin - Head of Hybridising

It may be the start of metrological spring, but we have actually been fooling our show plants that it’s been spring for a while now. Currently we have around 2,000 roses under glass in preparation for the RHS Chelsea and Hampton Court Palace Flower Shows.

At the beginning of the year we carefully bring the roses into the glasshouses in 4 large groups. The first batch is brought in during the first few days of January (some of this batch will be used at the Hampton Court Flower Show), followed by 2 batches in February and 1 in March, depending on the weather and how the plants are reacting to it.

Over the years we have learnt that each variety reacts differently to being forced on for shows, which is why we house them at different times. The objective is to try to force all the roses to flower at exactly the right moment for the shows and for the next few months the plants require a lot of attention, adapting to the weather and their individual growing habits in a bid to juggle things just right.

Preparing for Chelsea - spring 2020

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Posted in Articles about Roses By Michael Baldwin - Head of Hybridising

Broad-bodied Chaser Dragonfly

 Over the past few years our gardens have been dramatically expanded and improved, with many new structures and features being added.

One of the recent developments was the addition of our wildlife garden, which was opened in May 2016 and is a fabulous addition to our gardens here in Attleborough, Norfolk.

The wildlife garden is managed in an entirely different way to our main rose gardens, with our gardeners demonstrating a more relaxed and natural approach to maintaining and developing the area.

This new section of garden features two ponds, a wildflower meadow, areas to sit and view birds at several feeding stations, beds of rare and unusual species roses, a woodland walk and a children’s play area.

As well as the main beds of rare and historical roses, you will find many species roses are also planted throughout the wildlife gardens. These roses can be seen growing seamlessly with their surroundings, just as they would be found growing in the wild. Forming hedgerows, growing as individual shrubs amongst other wild plants or growing up into trees or over structures. These species roses are varieties that share their characteristics with wild roses, often producing single flowers that are easily accessible to insects, making them a magnet for pollinators. Many will also go on to produce hips in the autumn, which are not only attractive, but produce a nutritious meal for several species of bird as food sources start to become scarce.

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Posted in Articles about Roses By Ian Limmer - Nursery Manager

Hybridising Roses

 How are new roses created?

New roses are created through hybridisation, which is the art of crossing 2 different roses to produce a completely new variety.

Hybridising is not to be confused with budding, which is a way of cloning an existing rose, much like how growing plants from cuttings is also a way of cloning. To find out more about how to bud roses please click here.

Our goal is always to try to breed the perfect rose. One which is strong and healthy, of a fashionable shape and colour, heavily scented, repeat flowering and has a good growth habit.

It is quite easy to breed a nice rose with a good scent, but it might be prone to disease; or an unusual coloured flower on a weak plant; or even a really healthy rose that never flowers. The art therefore, is not just in the breeding, but about being able to recognise and select that one award winning rose seedling from the thousands of other seedlings that aren’t quite strong enough. For every 50,000 seedlings grown, there could be as few as three seedlings that are of a high enough standard to be launched as a future Peter Beales rose.


How do we breed new roses?

The first job is to select the plants that we wish to cross. These are called parent plants and the breeding team are always assessing varieties and seedlings for their breeding potential. The parent plants are then brought into the controlled environment of a glasshouse during February, to be encouraged to flower earlier. This gives the hips the best possible chance to ripen fully later in the year.

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Posted in Articles about Roses By Michael Baldwin - Head of Hybridising

Metal presents Spiky Black

06/09/2017 16:54

Spiky Black Roses

Spiky Black is a new site-specific audio artwork made for NetPark by artists Alison Carlier and Amanda Loomes.  It responds to the historic Rose Garden in Chalkwell Park, Southend-on-Sea which has been a feature and source of local pride since 1908.

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Posted in Articles about Roses By Ian Limmer - Nursery Manager

The truly classic rose

06/09/2017 16:50

Fantin Latour

We all have a picture in our minds of how a classic rose garden looks and smells. The masses of beautiful flowers in early summer and the gorgeous scent drifting through the warm summer air.

Typically, the roses that we would describe as ‘classic roses’ are the GallicasAlbasMossesCentifoliasDamasks and Species. These roses generally tend to have very old origins and often have beautiful, highly scented flowers, will grow happily in any soil condition and are very healthy. Some of these groups are even considered to include some of the most beautiful of all roses. For example the Centifolias, which means “a rose of a hundred petals”. One of my personal favourites, 'Fantin-Latour' is part of this family.  With its height of nearly 2 metres, it sits perfectly in the middle of a border, with beautiful soft pink flowers and a scent to die for. Another rose which is strikingly beautiful, yet slightly more unusual is 'Rosa Mundi', part of the Gallica family, which dates back to the 12th Century. Displaying large, semi-double, crimson flowers, with splashes of white and pink.

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Posted in Articles about Roses By Ian Limmer - Nursery Manager
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