Orange Rose

Episode 43: Pruning Roses

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of the podcast. This week I’m speaking to Richard Stubbs who currently works as the Trade Manager at David Austin but who’s worked in pretty much every department there, including as the Head Gardener of the 2 acre show garden. Richard lectures, designs and advises all over the world and what he doesn’t know about roses you can write on the back of a stamp and still have room to lick it. I asked him about which roses need pruning and which don’t, when to do it, how to do it and how not to do it. Plus, I got some inside information on why you shouldn’t leave the label on a rose when you plant it.

About Richard Stubbs:

“My interest in gardening stretches back to my childhood as my dad was very knowledgeable and worked in the trade for a number of years after the War.

My original intention was to go to college when I left school but due to the poor economy at the time I found myself working for a bank !!!

After nearly 15 years I found myself out of work and decided a change of career was the right way to go. As I lived in the village of Albrighton the local unemployment office suggested I went to see David Austin Roses to see if they would consider me under a special Government Scheme at the time.

After a quick interview with Michael Marriott the then Nursery Manager I was taken on, on a temporary basis. My first job was to walk through a field full of 900,000 new plants picking up the tops of the rootstocks that had been chopped off to allow the actual varieties to grow on.

I loved the place from day one and still do to this day, it’s a family business and everyone who work there is treated very much as members of their family.

I was very keen to learn and obtained a copy of Mr Austin’s first book ‘The Heritage of the Rose’ which I found fascinating, and my passion for roses quickly grew. Over the years I have worked in almost all the departments, the breeding section, producing 100’s of thousands of seedlings each year and helping them test possible new varieties for various attributes, the production department, growing the roses, lifting them from the fields and packing them up to send to our customers, and for many years the head gardener of the 2 acre show garden. The garden was my passion and I became almost obsessive about it trying to make sure it was kept to a very high standard (not easy with only one person to look after nearly 5000 roses of all different shapes and sizes). I loved working and listening to Mr Austin on a daily basis and the memories of this time will live for ever.

After a short break to look after people’s gardens in the area I started back at DAR but this time in the office, passing on my knowledge to our customers and processing orders. That was nearly 15 years ago now and I have had various positions in the offices including office manager. My main role now is to look after all our trade customers (apart from Garden Centres), so Local Councils, National Trust, large public estates, garden designers and landscapers. I am also responsible for staff technical training and one of my favourite jobs is designing rose gardens for either private or trade customers. These can range from a simple small border right up to very large park projects. Mostly it is just advising on what roses to plant where but sometimes you are given a completely blank canvas to work on and I always think it is a wonderful job to be able to create a beautiful rose garden for people to enjoy over many years from a blank space. I also visit gardens in the UK and abroad to advise and my favourite rose garden of all is a garden we created 10 years ago in Assisi Italy and I hold pruning courses there every February.

I am very, very passionate about roses and love to share this passion with whoever is willing to listen !!! This is one of the main reason I started The Magnificent Rose group on Facebook along with my wife so people with the same passion could share their pictures and their knowledge with likeminded people all over the world. I also have my own photography page RICMAY PHOTOGRAPHY as I am a keen amateur and love taking flowers and landscapes with my DSLR.”

What we talk about:

A brief overview of the various types of roses we might find in our gardens
Roses that don’t need pruning
When to prune
The key tenets of rose pruning aka the 3 D’s.
Different types of pruning for different types of roses
What can go wrong?
What would happen if you didn’t prune your rose?
Pruning hygiene and good practice
Common mistakes


David Austin Roses

Richard’s Photography Site

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