How to grow roses: advice from a very relaxed expert

Tanya Scott is very relaxed. It’s a baking February afternoon, at the end of a nightmare summer. It’s the kind of day on which most gardeners would become hysterical if a stranger with a camera asked to have a look around. Tanya, however, welcomes me, and gives me a guided tour before letting me loose to explore.

Tanya’s property has some enviable natural advantages, being located on good river soil with ample water supply. It has taken ten years of hard work to create this dream garden.


Entrance to the rose garden

The garden is set out relatively formally, with deep, rectangular raised beds separated by broad gravel paths. An elegant, bespoke arch frames a vista of Mount Frome. Considering the conditions, there’s an impressive showing of roses on display.

To see just how magnificent Tanya’s flowers are, when they haven’t been ravaged by a record-breaking summer, have a look at Mudgee Made Roses on Instagram, which showcases the stunning bouquets and luscious dessert tables she creates for her catering business, Mudgee Made Catering. Roses and dahlias are the stars of Tanya’s garden.

In the rose garden, there’s an eclectic mix of varieties and colours. The main varieties are hybrid tea, David Austin, Delbard (a French rose variety) and Floribunda.


The formality essentially ends at the timber borders of the raised beds. In the rose garden, the beds are crammed full of plants- not all perfectly manicured, but healthy and vibrant.


Transitioning between the rose garden and the kitchen garden there’s a series of beds containing a delightful profusion of cosmos, dahlias, zinnias and other old-fashioned flowers. The kitchen garden is planted with a multitude of vegetables and herbs, clearly the work of someone with a passion for fine food as well as a love of beautiful flowers.


Entrance to the kitchen garden

I’m thrilled by the contrasts, and the sense of abundance, in this garden, which promises a surprise around every corner.


White cosmos and zinnias with a backdrop of roses


The rich colours of rhubarb and nasturtiums


There’s no such thing as too many photos of zinnias and cosmos…

I’m keen to learn some rose growing secrets, and Tanya generously shares some very practical advice, with me.

Tanya doesn’t spray for pests. “Mainly due to laziness” she confesses. This I can understand- the hundreds of plants would take forever to spray, and Tanya has a family and a business to look after.

Tanya lets nature do what it’s supposed to do. “The lady beetles come and eat the aphids, and the spiders take care of the other insects, including black beetle. Yes, I lose a few roses to the insects, but I save the time that I would otherwise have spent spraying“. That reasoning works for me, and the results speak for themselves.


Tanya sources bare-rooted plants from Treloars and Wagners, but nowadays, she prefers Wagners, which is a family business. She holds onto the new plants until around the time of the last frost, usually in August, before planting them out. Tanya is pretty flexible about the timing. “Sometimes they’re left in a bucket for up to 4 months before I get the chance to plant them out.” she says.


Tanya fertilises the roses annually with Sudden Impact.

She advocates hard pruning, saying “You really need to get into the structure of the plant. I remove any stems thinner than a finger. If the plant is old, with a woody base, I scratch around quite hard on the woody mass, with secateurs, to promote new growth. Don’t be fussy”. Pruning takes about three half-days in Tanya’s garden.


Tanya often uses her home-grown herbs and vegetables in the catering business. And her dahlias are every bit as magnificent as the roses.


Tanya wants to inspire others to grow roses. She runs workshops and opens her garden to many visitors. “Everyone has a rose story” she says.

Ironically, with such abundance of beautiful blooms, Tanya admits that she has become blasé and rarely has roses in the house. But she does enjoy walking through her lovely garden.


Tanya’s best rose growing advice? “Don’t stress, just plant them, and work it out as you go. They don’t have to be perfect. Above all, don’t be scared of roses.


7 Comments Add yours

  1. janesmudgeegarden says:

    Lots of good tips in this post, thanks Jane. The pink and white striped rose is eye-catching.

  2. tonytomeo says:

    You know, I grew up with the hybrid tea roses that were still popular in the 1970s and 1980s, and I do not remember them being too much work. I know people say that they are, but I found them to be relaxing. I did not grow that many. The individual rows had only nine plants each, and I think there were less than fifty roses all together, including different locations.
    The rhubarb and nasturtiums are a cool picture, just because I happen to like both. Nasturtiums were my first seeds that my great grandfather gave me. He also gave me my first rhubarb, which I still grow. Both are so dago. I love them!

    1. My Dream Garden says:

      Memories of gardens and gardeners from our past, are very special. I think that’s one of the reasons why I like old fashioned plants so much.

      1. tonytomeo says:

        I never would have thought that hybrid tea roses would ever become old fashioned.

  3. Alison Milner says:

    lovely story some of my favorite flowers

    1. My Dream Garden says:

      Thanks for your comment Ally, you would love this whole garden!

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