The paradise for rose tree and perennial amateurs in Europe is in sweet Touraine, near the Chinon fortress in France. Elsie De Raedt, from Belgium, is its caretaker. Her Antwerp garden had grown too small for her passion: roses. So she moved south of Tours, France, and started planting some 340 rose tree cultivars surrounded by over 600 perennials.
This garden is all the more unique in that Elsie cultivates all her rose trees, especially gallica roses chosen for their disease resistance, without using any treatments at all and even… without watering. To do without watering, she chose to add “Grains d’eau (Polyter)” to her soil. This gel, invented by a Belgian compatriot teaching in Gand, Belgium, is added to the ground upon planting. It then swells to retain water and slowly releases it to the plants.
Precious rose planting advice
This expert willingly shares her precious counsels on how to succeed in growing roses: choose a properly exposed location considering wind and sun; plant from November to December; start with digging a deep hole, about 4 inches (10 cm) deeper and wider than the volume of the roots, which must be guided to point downwards. Add rose tree fertilizer or compost if the soil is too sandy and poor. The graft point must be level with the ground level: half of it below and half of it above.
The ever-delicate step: pruning. Elsie recommends pruning repeat-blooming roses around March 1st depending on the area. Don’t forget to remove wilted flowers to spur new blooms. You can still prune repeat-blooming roses in July, but not too drastically.
Roses, and perennials, too!
To make the most of seasons and please the eye at all times, feel free to choose roses that bear berries that stay ornamental through fall and winter, like rose trees from the Rosa Rugosa family (‘Hansa’ or ‘Blanc double de Coubert’). To attract bees, plant simple-flowered roses that are easy to extract nectar from.
To visit Elsie’s garden
Personalized tour all year round, just book ahead of time! 6€ per head.
Elsie De Raedt, Le Jardin d’Elsie, 1-5 Route de Huismes. 37 500 Chinon, France
Telephone: +33 2 47 98 07 58 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Marie Petitcerf