Hips and Haws

Rosa rugosa makes a truly decorative hedge on its own or mixed with other hedge plants, especially if the plants are in the sun so that they flower well. Choose vibrant pink or purest white flowers for your summer interest and then enjoy the enormous orange gobstoppers of hips that they produce in autumn that last well into winter. These are marvellous additions to any autumnal flower arrangement, not least because the leaves are so textural as well. N.B. gloves necessary! The dog rose, a key component of our bird friendly hedge mix, has bright orange, oval hips, while Rosa glauca sports plum tomato type hips. For something a little more unusual the Scotch rose, Rosa pimpinellifolia, displaying just that little bit of independence, has unusual maroon/black hips for a change. Do include any of the Scotch, Glauca and Rugosa roses in a hedge but remember that they make fine standalone shrubs in themselves.

So, how to have great hips? The common theme in all of the roses mentioned so far is that they are at the more trouble free end of the rose spectrum, the sort of roses that are not permanently plagued with blackspot and such like. Crucially they have simple single, double or cupped flowers which are easily pollinated so that the flower can develop into the seedhead that is the hip. By comparison, the more highly strung roses with petals involuted in on each other or (God forbid!) fragrance free make it too difficult for the poor old bees to get into the relevant bits to perform their pollinating turn. The other prerequisite for hips is about you: for once you need to be a more lackadaisical gardener, one never seen with a trug and secateurs avidly deadheading the rose bed. Instead you need to ignore all the sage advice and commit no dead heading after about the first of September. If you do this and choose some of the roses from the hedging paragraph above or any from the following list you will add a whole new dimension to your autumn and winter garden.
The lovely Gallicas are the original war of the roses rose, which all have an enormously seductive scent and velvety petals - real boudoir roses. They are known as the apothecary roses or Damask roses. A favourite amongst these would be the deep red Tuscany Superb.

Amongst the small ramblers is the not very small white Rambling Rector which has tiny oval orange hips, the extraordinarily floriferous Wedding Day, bright white Kiftsgate, or palest pink Paul's Himalayan Musk. All have an amazing head for heights therefore giving you no chance for hip prevention anyway!
In the climbing section, the lemon sorbet rose, Paul's Lemon Pillar, and David Austin's famous pink Constance Spry produce lovely hips.
If you are looking for a Floribunda rose, then try Ballerina. Amongst the shrub roses, choose from Golden Wings, red Rosa moyesii Geranium, pretty pink Felicia, apricot Buff Beauty, white Penelope, Rosa mundi, the most famous striped rose and lovely flushed Leda.

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