Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Plant Profiles: Roses

A photo showing a small selection of the profusion of blooms from my Rosa 'Kew Gardens'

My Kew Gardens rose has really taken off since I introduced you to her in 2012. I first met her at Easton Walled Gardens, where Michael Marriott* from David Austin Roses gave a fascinating talk and I was lucky enough to bring her home as a gift.

This is my perfect rose. It's thornless, so I can look after her without gloves; it has a simpler flower, which reflects the forms of the white rugosa roses planted around our estate; it's relatively tall at around 5 feet; it's disease free (so far); it repeat flowers in profusion, and with a delicious scent. What's not to like?

The one drawback I've found so far, is its tendency to act as a magnet for aphids, as do all roses. Happily, I've noticed the ladybirds, lacewings and hoverflies soon move in to hoover them up - I can go from absolutely encrusted stems to the all clear in the space of a few days.

A general view of the garden at 10pm in early July shows how a white rose lights up the gloom
Hand held and taken at 10pm a couple of days ago - it seemed much darker to me at the time

As you can see a white rose really helps to brighten the gloom at dusk. It looks like it's waving to my Philadelphus 'The Bride' on the right in the shadiest part of the garden - a happy coincidence. Skimble seems oblivious to it all, even though there was lots of scent from these two around at the time.

Many of the polls which ask us to name our favourite flower, usually feature roses at or near the top. I must admit they're fairly low down the list of mine, but having said that the few I have are making for magical evenings in the garden just now.

As well as 'Kew Gardens', the other roses I have are:

  • 'Silver Anniversary' - a hybrid tea rose in a patio pot which I've earmarked for replacement as it suffers badly from black spot
  • Mislabelled 'New Dawn' - a climber I obtained from a magazine special offer and is far too pink to be as described, but does well in the shady spot I've given it
  • 'Rambling Rector' - a rambler which I planted to deter anyone from climbing over our boundary fence, but it's far too rampant for our garden. I'm looking for a replacement - I'm still considering the Pyracantha I talked about last year, but I'm open to other suggestions for a well shaded 40-50 foot long fence
  • The Fairy (red form) - my container grown plant obviously hasn't read the guidance as it's currently more than double the height of the suggested 1 metre it's supposed to grow to

It would be nice to have a companion for 'Kew Gardens' in the terrace beds area, so I'm currently looking at the other thornless roses available. Sadly it won't be the deliciously scented 'Zephirine Drouhin', as it's been shy to flower for me and was a black spot magnet.

Are roses one of your favourites? Which one wouldn't you be without?

* = if you get the chance to hear him speak, go. He's a walking encyclopedia on all things rose.

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A collage of David Austin roses looking good in early July
A gallery of David Austin roses, which are looking good in early July

Main Picture: 'Ballerina' (shrub rose);
Smaller pictures - top to bottom right: 'Winchester Cathedral' (medium shrub), 'Charles Darwin' (English rose), 'Teasing Georgia' (medium shrub or short climber), 'Golden Celebration' (medium shrub or short climber), 'Lady Emma Hamilton' (English rose), and 'Rambling Rosie' (climbing and rambler roses);
Smaller pictures - bottom left to right: 'Tess of the d'Urbevilles' (climbing and rambler roses), 'The Lady of the Lake' (English rose),  'Falstaff' (English rose), 'Boscobel' (shrub), 'Darcy Bussell' (English rose), and 'Rambling Rosie' (again)

Cultivation and Other Notes:


 Rosa 'Abraham Darby'
'Abraham Darby'  (English rose)
This is a huge subject to cover and too much for this post. Have a look at the RHS's guidance on the growing and propagation of roses as your starting point. There's lots of informative links from there, especially to the common pests and diseases found on roses.

The RHS also has a short guide to choosing a suitable rose for your garden.

There are currently 11 different National Collections of roses (as at July 2015), covering those specifically bred by Peter Beales and David Austin, plus various groups of roses and their cultivars. Their locations range from Essex to Scotland.

'Grace'  (English rose)
You may also like:

On Veg Plotting:


Elsewhere on the web:

  • Wikipedia's guidance on the classification of roses. There are too many to describe here and Wikipedia's list is the most comprehensive I've found online so far. 
  • Roses are noted for their perfume and there are up to 400 different components in that rich fragrance. Here's a guide to the 5 main types.
  • This general Wikipedia article on roses has a brief introduction to their culinary, medicinal and perfumery uses. Note the rich source of vitamin C found in rosehips, plus the making of  rosehip syrup and rose water.
  • Val Bourne's article on the difference between climbing and rambling roses. I'd only add that ramblers tend to be cut back after flowering rather than towards the end of winter
  • The RHS experimented with using hedge trimmers to prune roses and reported they found no difference between that and conventional pruning. I've found no reference online (it was reported in The Garden), apart from this oblique one via The Telegraph
  • Victoria and I wrote an article on the 50 best gardens to visit for the Independent - our rose garden selection is the first part of this online gallery. Do you have a favourite to add in the comments?

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8 comments:

  1. Your Kew Gardens rose is beautiful, and as you say, white flowers are gorgeous at dusk or on a gloomy day. I used to have an Albertine, and for two weeks of the year it was utterly glorious. I've put Madame Alfred Carriere along a fence, and I've got Iceberg and Baron Girod de l'Ain at the allotment, which is gorgeous, dozens of dark red petals and the most wonderful scent. Also a small pink rose in a pot on the patio, it doesn't grow huge, but it's a bit on the bright side. And one of those huge thugs of a standard rose at the allotment with thorns that rip the skin right off you and enormous medium pink flowers and if I'm honest a smell of rotting cabbage after a while in the vase. It's funny, I hadn't realised how many roses I have, somehow they just turn up.

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  2. Exactly CJ, roses aren't at the top of my list, yet I have 5 and I'm contemplating adding another! You have a wonderful selection - I'll investigate the possibility of Madame Alfred Carriere for my fence, thank you.

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  3. I would recommend the Rose Goldfinch, it is almost thornless with a lovely scent. There is a picture of it on my blog, growing over an arch.

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    1. That looks a promising option, thanks Brian :)

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  4. I think I have 7 roses in my garden, but they are not my favourite plant to grow. They don't grow well, but that might be because I'm not very good at looking after them.

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    1. Ha - I'm very good at finding plants that grow well despite the treatment (or not) I give them ;)

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  5. I have quite a few, mostly David Austin roses which were chosen for their perfume. Others have been given to me, strangely they don't have much perfume, but I feel I can't get rid of them! Your Kew Garden rose certainly shows up in the dark evening, it looks lovely where it is.

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    1. Thanks Pauline. I also find it hard to get rid of plants which don't perform but were gifts. We need to be more ruthless!

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