Part One: Climbers and Ramblers
Gardeners love nothing more than dreaming of summer in the middle of winter – it’s a delightful antidote to a cold, dreary day. And counterintuitive as it seems, now’s the perfect moment to think about which roses will be the stars of your garden later in the year.
Roses are one of the most rewarding plants you can grow. Is there anything more intoxicatingly beautiful than a rose in full flower, velvety blooms abuzz with bees and fragrant with that wonderful, honeyed scent of myrrh and tea? No wonder they’re consistently named as the nation’s favourite flower.
Whether you’re contemplating your first rose or adding to an existing collection you can get off a flying start by planting bareroot roses from now until the end of March. (Weather permitting of course – you should avoid planting in very cold or freezing conditions).
If you think you don’t have room for a rose, try a bit of vertical thinking. One of the best ways of growing roses in small gardens is upwards. Climbing and rambling roses add bags of interest without hogging ground space, and they’re brilliant at screening unlovely sheds and utilitarian compost bins. Another plus: this group of roses includes numerous varieties with the RHS Award of Garden Merit, the benchmark of healthy and reliable plants.
Climbing roses such as ‘Iceberg’ or ‘Etoile de Hollande’ look fantastic clothing a wall or fence – ideally placed where you can easily inhale their heady scent. Don’t panic if you only have a shady wall to offer: some varieties, such as the gorgeous apricot-pink rambler ‘Phyllis Bide’, can tolerate some shade and will even thrive on a north facing wall.
A climbing rose trained up an obelisk is a nifty way of introducing a vertical accent to a border. Choose a repeating flowering variety such as ‘Lilac Bouquet’ to enjoy bountiful blooms from June to September.
Growing a climbing or rambling rose through a tree is another resourceful idea. Vigourous varieties such as ‘Madame Alfred Carrière’ or ‘Rambling Rector’ can reach over 6 metres and will happily scramble to the top of mature trees. Miniature ramblers like ‘Open Arms’, ‘Narrow Water’, and ‘Rambling Rosie’ are more restrained; at about 3 metres high they are ideal for twining romantically through the boughs of an apple tree.
We also love seeing roses garlanding a front door – it’s the ultimate in cottage core kerb appeal. Thornless ramblers like ‘Veilchenblau’ and ‘Ghislaine de Féligonde’ make a practical choice for thresholds, producing generous sprays of flowers and no snagged knitwear to worry about. You’ll be doubly grateful, too, coming pruning time at the end of the summer.
Summer will come in its own good time, but until it does why not make the most of a cosy fireside afternoon and browse our extensive collection of roses to find one that’s just right for your garden.