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David Austin emailed me yesterday to say my 6 climbing roses are on their way!  This makes me both excited and nervous, as I've never planted bare root roses before, and I've never planted anything in winter before!  Two Wollerton Old Hall for a 6' fence, and 4 Shropshire Lads for the 4 corners of an 8' wooden pergola.  Both WOH's and two of the SL's are going into the ground, but the other two SL's will be in large pots.  I have got a lot of info from various websites, but could still do with a bit of advice!

1.  We've had so much rain here in Harrogate since the snow went, and that was on the ground for a good week.  So I guess the soil is pretty soggy and I'm wondering whether I should wait awhile before planting.  But then it looks as if night time temperatures next week will be below freezing.  Would that be bad for newly planted roses?

2. I have a wooden garden seat which will be placed in front of my fence, and my idea is to plant the WOH's in the beds either side of the seat and train them across to meet each other, so making a richly scented wall behind the seat.  Well that's the idea anyway!  I believe I need to put horizontal wires stretched between vine eyes to support the rose stems, but not being a DIYer, or being able to use a drill, I am wondering if I will be able to get these vine eye screws into the fence?  Any tips?

I'll stop there for the moment - but thank you if you've made it this far!


Hi, I planted some bare root roses in Novenber.

If your ground is really wet don't plant - do what they call heel them in- find a patch that is not as wet and dig a hole and just lay the plant in it (not planting leave) leave ties and labels on, cover roots with soil and wait till dryer. I had to do that with a couple and eventually popped them in just before the snow.

The other advantage with this is you can properly plant in your own time and not in a rush.

That idea of a garden seat with them behind sounds/smells lovely.

I'm not too hot on the DIY either so always look for less complicated ways of doing things. Are they wooden pots? You can get a strong staple gun that takes extra large/thick  staples and use them - something i'm going to have ago at- to fasten the wire. Someone on here will probably tell you a way

When you plant you need to bury the graft about 3ins below surface.


I usually did a hole as rosa carroila said and put a couple in and cover over with soil up to just above the graft point. I only put 2 in a hole together so that when the time comes for planting I just dig up 2 at a time. If you plant them all in one hole and dont have time to plant them all at once you will have to heel the rest in again. I did this with 12 and even tho they are still covered in snow they will be fine. Ive done this many times as I cant leave roses alone. Everytime I say thats it another one comes along that I cant live without. If theres going to be a frost cover the tops with straw or a bucket but I really dont think you need to as the roses you have already in yr garden (i asume you have some) survive the frost so these will too. If you havent got any ground suitable put them in a couple of builders buckets and cover all the roots with soil they will be fine.

Thanks Rosa carriola and galest - some very useful tips there.  Actually there are no roses at all in my garden, apart from a couple of old ones in pots which I brought from my previous house. I've just had a back garden makeover (last October) and everything was taken out apart from a prunus, an apple tree, a conifer and a lilac.  So it's a blank canvas and the roses are the very first new inhabitants.



I'm slowly re-doing my garden after stripping everything out to ground level.. Loving it



If the soil is really too wet you can use cheap potting compost in a sack or bucket to protect the roots and put them somewhere sheltered.

If the fence is wood and the vine eyes are screw in you will need to make holes in the wood to start screwing them into. Isn't there a neighbour with a drill who can help? Otherwise you can get a pointy thing called a bradawl which you stick in the wood and twist to make a hole. They are quite cheap.


Bradawls are great and you can get different sizes, I have a small medium and large however I do tend to loose them in the garden for a few months at a time, so if I cant find them I use a old electricians screwdriver as it has a small head and it does the same thing.

The roses arrived yesterday.  I undid the bag to get the planting booklet out and have just folded the top over again and left it in a cool place.  There was a bit of wet in the polythene bag, so I assume they will be ok for a week.  It may be as long as that, or even a bit longer before I can plant them. David Austin says if you can't plant them in the first week, heel them into the garden somewhere. But Galest suggested I could put them in a bucket and cover the roots with soil which might be easier as the ground is pretty clayey and wet.  I have 2 questions. Should the plants be kept in the dark ? - whether in their original bag, or in a bucket of soil.  And, if the soil in the ground is still a bit claggy when I come to plant, could I trickle some John Innes no 2 in between the roots?  (I plan on buying some tomorrow).

Thanks in advance (and in hopes that you're not all so busy out in your gardens that you don't have time to come on this site!)


Why are you leaving them in the polythene bag exactly?-I would get them out now

The bucket of soil is a good idea-but do not leave them in the dark-plants need light

As for planting -yes that is ok- but if the ground is that claggy you are going to need to do a bit of preparation first



If they are just in the polythene bag then make sure the cool place is frost free as the roots have no protection like earth from the cold. Also don't let them dry out. I suggested putting potting compost in the bag. Before you plant them out it would be good to dig in some well rotted manure or compost. This would provide nourishment and help stop the earth being so clayey. I don't think they need be kept in the dark, they are not in the dark when planted. The thing is to stop the roots freezing or drying out.


I wouldnt leave them in their bags especially if its polythene. Take them out and if your ground is that wet just put them into buckets and make sure all the roots are covered with any sort of compost or soil it doesnt matter just as long as they are covered as it will stop them drying out. Dont keep them in the dark you wouldnt like it so neither will they just put them outside somewhere sheltered from cold drying winds. Freezing will do them no harm as the ground in the garden freezes in winter and years ago I had a rose sat in a bucket of pure water that was frozen for weeks and it was fine. If the top growth gets abit damaged prune it off when you plant them, it will always come back when it warms up but if the roots dry out you cld loose them. I know its sounds alot of messing around especially for someone who isnt used to all this but if they ve come from D Austin you will have paid alot of money for them so you shld give them abit of care now. When you come to plant them prepare the soil well, if its heavy dig in some sand or grit (not a handful - half a bucket for each) to open the soil up as this helps with drainage then give them a good top dressing of manure or compost. When spring comes give each one a handful of blood fish and bone and they shld grow well.


I always sprinlke the roots of any shrub, especially roses with mycorrhizal fungi, You can buy it as Rootgrow from GC's and B&Q and others. You sprinklw it on the roots and it helps to encourage strong root growth. I use it as I do not know what has previously been in the garden. Rose nurseries recommend it now. Plus of couse all of the above


I cant get in Hungary we are still back in the 60s here so I just have to do the best I can and I dont get many losses. Ive been at this for 40yrs now and I do know the soil I have is very fertile probably due to the generations before me keeping horses cows pigs and chickens, all the waste went on the garden. There are times when im sure if I stuck a boom handle in the soil it would grow - if you know what I mean.

Thanks guys, you are all being very helpful.  We've had more snow today, but most of it has gone now.  I had a look at my plants today and decided I should put them in buckets and a large container and cover the roots with compost.  Some of the roots kept bouncing up out of the compost, but I finally managed to make them lie down, using all of the remaining compost. Phew!  They are in the shed which has 3 windows, so they will get plenty of light during the day.  The weather is supposed to be much dryer for the rest of the week, so hopefully I can get them in the ground by the weekend.

Rosa C, I got 2 packets of the fungi from David Austin.


Well done and im sure they will be fine. When I get roses sent out here any shoots they have are bleeched white as they been in bags for up to a fortnight but once they get outside they turn green after a couple of weeks. I hope you get some good weather soon so you can get them plants soon. When they flower you ll think all this was worth it.


Hello, here I am again!  I have removed 2 of the roses from their buckets of compost and put them into buckets of water, intending to plant them in the ground sometime this afternoon.  I am hoping that 4 hours soaking will be enough for them.  I'm not sure how near the fence to dig the holes.  Please can someone suggest a minimum and maximum distance?  


Only need about 2hrs soaking. Plant at least 45cm (18ins) away from fence if possible. If not as far away as you can manage. When you plant, then place them so they lean towards the fence not upright.

Don't go too far away!

Hope this makes sense.


So, when planting to train on a fence, you always place them so they lean towards the fence - right?  What about the ones I am going to plant at the base of the pergola?


Same thing leave a space and lean them towards the upright. If you plant them to close their roots come up against the concrete. Then as they grow you can wind the branches around the pergola, that way it should give more flowers.


Thanks Bjay!  One rose planted, five to go.  The second one has very long stiff roots and I don't think I will be able to dig a hole deep enough before hitting rubble.  Will it harm the plant to take a couple of inches off the ends?

When I come to the two that are going in my two large B&Q Sankey polypropolene pots, root length will not be a problem, as they are very deep.  The pots will be standing on saucers on the patio.  Do I need to put crocks and/or a layer of grit in the bottom of the pots, and should I put some grit in the saucers and stand the pots on that?