There is one plant gardeners all over the world can’t get enough of – the simple, or not so simple Rose. I myself have had a love / hate relationship with Roses, when I first started gardening I did not enjoy pruning roses due to their lethal thorns. Also a lot of the specimens I looked after were old, diseased, tired and needed replacing. Over the years I have learned to like them and even love them as they are so diverse and versatile. There are not many situations in a garden setting where they would look out of place, especially in the UK. Most importantly I love the scent!
Roses have a long and colourful history, they have been symbols of love, beauty, war, and politics. The Rose is, according to fossil evidence, 35 million years old and, in nature, the genus Rosa has some 150 species spread throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Garden cultivation of Roses began some 5,000 years ago, probably in China. During the Roman period, Roses were grown extensively in the Middle East. They were used as confetti at celebrations, for medicinal purposes, and as a source of perfume. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the popularity of Roses seemed to rise and fall depending on gardening trends of the time.
Most modern day Roses can be traced back to the late eighteenth century when they were introduced from China. These introductions were repeat bloomers, making them unusual and of great interest to hybridizers, setting the stage for breeding work which continues today as roses are once again enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Gardeners of today require a Rose that is not as demanding with regard to disease control, offer excellent floral quality, have excellent winter hardiness and fit into shrub borders and perennial gardens without seeming out of place.
Success when growing Roses can be attributed to the following: it is best to choose your variety wisely, get advice or research on the wide array of classes available. Basic culture information and information about potential disease and insect problems will go a long way in making roses an enjoyable addition to the garden. Also feed well and keep up the spraying regime and you will be rewarded with healthy looking plants with great flowers and great perfume
Some of my favourite varieties include, Cornelia, Felicia, Gertrude Jeykll (Pictured), The Generous Gardener (pictured), Claire Austin Climbing, Just Joey and Darcy Bussell. In my opinion Roses look best planted in a mixed border, whether that be a herbaceous border or a shrub border. I’m not a fan of roses planted as single specimens or even rose borders with no other planting – they have ugly legs that need to be hidden from sight! Cornelia or Gertrude above a carpet of Stachys Primrose Heron or Stachys Silver Carpetmake great combinations – so simple but very effective. Climbing Roses are also great combined with summer flowering Clematis as the clematis use the rose branch as support as they scramble skywards. If chosen carefully you can create great colour combinations by choosing a Clematis that flowers at the same time as the rose or you can extend the flowering season by choosing a clematis that flowers just after the first flush of flower from the rose. Either way they work incredibly well together.