Are roses old fashioned? I guess those of us who are old enough to remember the sight of bush roses surrounded by bedding plants being almost obligatory in the garden might think so, but there is so much more to these beautiful and often heavenly scented plants.
Personally, I have a love of climbing and rambling roses and these days you can even buy thornless climbing roses, if that’s what’s putting you off planting them in the garden. I love planting in three dimensions to create vertical interest and height in the border, or creating a canopy of colour and scent under which to meander along a path. Pergolas, arches, trellis, obelisks and arbours can all be used to support these elegant stems and blooms Using repeat obelisks in a border to support roses creates form, and a well-positioned arch covered in roses creates a sense of entrance. Trellis adorned with roses may provide a decorative screen, a series of single pergola enhanced with roses provides a sense of travel, and an arbour hanging with roses can provide a destination and focal point in the garden. Many garden centres are well-stocked, providing helpful descriptions to guide you.
The most successful roses are likely to be bare-root, available November-March and best planted late Autumn but there are containerised roses available all year round – these are still best planted in late Autumn. Don’t plant new roses where old roses have been unless you dig out and replace with new soil. Dig a hole twice the width of the plants roots and the depth of a spade’s blade. Mix in well-rotted organic matter and a general fertiliser. Position the rose at the centre of the hole and backfill gently making sure that the graft union (where the branches originate at the bottom of the main stem) is at soil level when planted and add a mulch on top. Feed during the growing season and douse with seaweed extract to keep the plant healthy. Long-flowering and often repeat-flowering, some of these wonderful varieties can bloom into Autumn.
Some of my favourites: Zephirine Drouhin (tolerates a little shade) and James Galway (thornless climbing roses with an old rose scent), Albertine (rambler with a strong fragrance), New Dawn (medium climber with good scent), Iceberg (medium climber/rambler), Danse de Feu (climber/rambler – short with light scent), Golden Showers for light shade… the list goes on!