IT’S not just a good year for that perennial English favourite, the rose, it’s a great year, thus far.

A sunny and unseasonably warm March, followed by April showers and more sustained rain too have combined to produce beautiful early blooms and glossy foliage.

Roses can oft be taken for granted, but attention to their needs is amply rewarded. They are hungry feeders and love a mulch to retain moisture.

The first gardener this year to get in touch with pictures was Rachael Rosewell, by name as well as nature – an erstwhile colleague who swapped her sub-editing hacking skills for more delicate pruning in early retirement.

She spread loads of manure on her roses in November and reaped reward in spades.

Her favourite pink rose is Olivia Rose Austin from David Austin, named after the founder’s granddaughter which was the first to flower really early — in mid-April.

It inspired us to take a walk through Seaview – no longer than an hour, of course... to see what we could see.

There in the churchyard of St Peter’s was a delicately perfumed gem floribunda, which, I think, is Princess of Wales. Quite rightly, this gem received the Award of Garden Merit given by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).

Around the corner was another fave, the climber, Masquerade. This rose produces large clusters of mid-sized flowers which are unusual in that they change colour from yellow to burnt red as they age.

It is a vigorous free-flowering variety that copes well with partial shade.

In its Seaview front garden home its blooms intermingle with a white, pink-tinged climber.

Choose a sunny site for roses, dig deeply and put in loads of well-rotted manure and a generous handful of blood, fish and bone — or similar slow-release fertiliser — keep watered, fed and mulched and you too will be rewarded.

Spray regularly with a contact insecticide to kill aphids and a systemic for the disfiguring black spot, mildew and rust. If you don’t like that,– and I can fully understand why – then giving your rose exactly what it wants will enable it to be vigorous and withstand disease.spraying every now and again with dilute washing-up liquid will deter greenfly.

l It used to be the case that if you wanted to plant a rose where one had been before you would have to deep-dig out the old soil and replace with new and a heavy dose of manure. However, thanks to the fairly recent introduction of Rootgrow it is now possible to plant new roses where old roses have been. The rose variant of Rootgrow — there are others for different plants — contains essential nutrients, biologically active mycorrhizal fungi and beneficial bacteria to help to build soil fertility. It’s good for established plants too.

l More of you have obviously got more time on your hands — I wonder why? Consequently, I have a stack of emails which I will respond to, but there may be a bit of a delay...