Roses are a delight and very easy to grow. It was the first thing I wanted to plant when we moved into our 1930s house with a long west facing garden. I devoured the rose catalogues and ordered roses with great expectations of a fragrant rose filled garden the following summer. It didn’t quite go according to plan. The roses did their best but could not grow in our heavy clay soil. I have found it is virtually impossible to kill a rose but the first ones I planted succumbed to disease quickly.
Roses love clay soil but the key is to work the earth and incorporate masses of organic matter to lighten it and release the nutrients. This is hard graft but very good exercise. Here are some of my favourite beauties:
White Climber – Mme Alfred Carriere
Very vigorous fragrant rose – she performs year after year with minimum fuss. Great repeat flowering. She needs room to excel but best to cut back non flowering shoots after first flush of flowers.
Yellow Shrub or Climber – Graham Thomas
Tough as old boots and flowers throughout the season. Not much scent but a beautiful buttery yellow colour. I have under-planted with a blue perennial geranium.
Pink Shrub or Short Climber – Mme Isaac Periere
Huge crimson flowers with a powerful and delicious fragrance. A large bush or small climber. Repeats well and I grow it just for the fragrance with a clematis climbing through her.
Pale Pink/Apricot Shrub or Short Climber – Shropshire Lad
Vigorous rose and tough tough! I have planted 3 together to make one massive bush. They are still establishing but I have high hopes. Great for back of the border in a mixed bed. The shape of the rose is wonderful. Very fragrant.
Apricot Shrub or Short Climber – Crown Princess Margareta
One rose that survived my initial planting without disease which shows how tough she is. Fantastic fragrance and I had roses on the plant until December. I have planted 3 more together in expectation of one mass.
White Climber – Iceberg
Modern rose and one which you will see in lots of gardens, and with good reason. She flowers consistently throughout the season with the minimum of fuss. Unfortunately no fragrance. The photo was taken during a house re-roof and Iceberg had been battered by scaffolding and dusted with mortar rubble but suffered no ill effects. Watch out for mildew if you grow it up a wall.
Pink Shrub - Princess Alexandra of Kent
Beautiful huge rose that has a strong fragrance and changes colour from lilac pink to soft pink on the outer petals as the flower ages giving it a lovely two tone appearance. Repeat flowering. I have planted 3 together and this is their first year.
Red Climber – Dublin Bay Rose
Modern climber and bought for the fantastic red colour flower that stays for ages on the plant. No fragrance. Unfortunately I find it prone to disease.
Orange Climber – Warm Welcome
Mini climber with single orange flowers. No fragrance but flowers its heart out all season. I am growing Clematis ‘Arabella’ through the climber which also flowers all season. A smashing plant combination especially for a small garden.
Pink Shrub – Jacques Cartier
Hardy old rose that never lets you down because its tough, reliable and very healthy. Strong fragrance. Grown it where you can appreciate the delicious fragrance.
Things I have learned:
1. Prepare the soil well with masses of organic matter – i.e garden compost or horse manure (this must be well rotted or it will burn the plant).
2. Mulch the plant each spring with compost and work in a handful of rose food. After initial flowering I will feed once more.
3. Water well.
4. Be patient!
I don’t use chemical sprays because my experience shows they do not work and they are very expensive. They also kill the wildlife. The pesky black spot always returns but healthy roses seem to be able to cope with the fungus. My reward for not using chemicals is lots of ladybirds.