The first flush of the garden roses is well underway. They can prove irresistible. Last year there was a successful prosecution of a rose thief, arrested in the early hours of the morning climbing over the railings with a bucket of stolen blooms - our gardener, used to clearing up the sad remains of sniffed and discarded blooms, thought this was a great use of police time!
Though not at the top of any wildlife-friendly planting guide, roses do support wildlife. Rose sawfly larvae will soon gnaw their leaves to herring-bone skeletons, aphids will gather in great herds on new soft growth, leaf-cutter bees will cut semi-circular snippets from the leaves to line their brood cells. Single-flowered varieties will be busy with eager pollen-hunters. The double will be busy with noses, as garden visitors stop for a sniff.
Our roses are growing in poor, rubble-rich soil. They are unsprayed and only fed the odd bucket of compost once in a while. Despite the usual complicated advice that is usually given for rose growing, strong varieties really are tough easy shrubs. Of course, the varieties we grow have proven themselves over time and any that couldn't cope and wanted fussing have long since been thrown on the compost heap. Death to the weak!