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Dear all

my name is Joana I live and Work in the uk but am originally from Portugal. Last weekend my home town (oliveira do hospital) devastated by fires. It was the worst affected County with 95% of our Greenland lost in just a few hours. 

My parents and many friends gardens burned completely and fortunately the house was spared after much fire Fighting that night.

My mother is devastated with Her black garden. I’m keen to start working on it and friends/neighbours/town gardens. My parents and friends were very proud of their rose gardens, with centenary roses and some bought at harlow Carr castle Howard and other places around Europe.

i wonder if you can advise me on whether roses survive fire and how can I look for signs of life? Should I remove them and start over?

your advice will be much appreciated. Although we currently focus on keeping the county’s people fed and safe I feel this will help with healing from the very traumatic experience they lived through.

many thanks



Many plants will survive the tops being burnt off.  Prune off the burnt stuff , and they will often regenerate from the base. Eucalyptus trees are exceptionally good at regeneration after fire, and the seeds actually need smoke to help  them germinate.  If you prune the roses down, be careful not to go below the graft point or you will just get the wild rootstock.


My gut feeling is to leave well alone until you're sure of what's actually dead and what's coming back.

I remember the great storm of 87 and looking back it was considered " clearing up" did more harm than good.

I add, I've never dealt with fire damage.


Oh, my sympathy to your mother and her friends and neighbours.  What a horrid thing to happen. 

We sometimes have fires on the coastal heathland here in East Anglia, and it's amazing how the plants recover the following year.  If the area was very dry quite often the flames, although fierce, race across the land quickly and only burn the surface of the plants and the hearts of the plants survive to grow again.  I understand from family in Tasmania who were caught up in the horrific fires of a few years ago that many of their garden plants regenerated when the spring rains came.

I agree with Hosta, dont remove anything until next spring when hopefully you'll begin to see signs of the plants reappearing, phoenix-like, from the ashes.  

Our fingers are crossed for you. 

Last edited: 21 October 2017 14:08:14


Much as the first reaction to such devastation is a desire to "sort stuff out", I'm in agreement with both of the above comments.

Hard as it may be, leave it - you may well be surprised at what has survived.

Very best wishes to your mother and her neighbours - a dreadful experience for them.

My deepest sympathies for the horror and devastation caused by the fires . Good advice from all the above ; maybe leave alone and see what has survived . Food for thought here though  ; most cultivated roses are grafted onto a hardy stock plant ; perhaps the tops are lost forever leaving only the underground grafting stock . Would anyone know until they flower again ?

Nature is an excellent healer though , and I'm sure that all is not lost .


They used to purposely burn Dartmoor, to generate new growth, I don’t think they do it now people complained! 

I agree with the others who say to leave everything alone and see what does regenerate.  In the milder climate of Portugal I guess that might happen more quickly than it would in the UK.  There is nothing to lose by trying that approach and possibly much to gain.

If your mother and her friends want colour in the garden in the meantime pots would probably help hide the bareness.


I guess the biggest problem would now be really heavy rain which could wash the loose and dusty topsoil off.

How distressing to face this  when you have worked so hard to get it into shape.

Thank you all very much. I was ready to get to work and change the landscape back to green but will hold on following your kind advicÉs. I’m sure we will recover from this as there is a great spirit of solidarity and help as you also given me here. I will let you know once spring comes.

very best wishes


Good luck and all the best !


Oh yes, please come back and let us know how things go in the spring ... some photos would be good too ... good luck ... we'll have our fingers crossed.  

And if your mother and her friends need any seeds to sow to replace their plants, we have a Seed Swap thread here where we all share around the seeds we've gathered from our garden plants.  I'm sure people would be happy to send you some. 

Thank you very much!!

will have a look at that too

ill return in the spring in the meantime weeds are growing already - just a week post fire!!! See  below - it was a olive tree orchard


Hi Joana ... if the photo doesn't upload try reducing the size ... that usually works 

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