The Narrow Water rambling rose is certainly not new, having been first introduced in 1883, but it somehow has been overlooked recently in favour of more gaudy and obvious roses. As Julia Roberts says in Pretty Woman: "Big mistake. Huge!" A rambler rose that repeats is a rare thing and Narrow Water does not just repeat, it blooms and blooms and blooms all summer favouring you with a spectacle of clear pink, semi-double flowers. The pink is pale but not wishy-washy, and its loose petalled flowers are small and open out flat so that you can see the central golden stamens. Trusses of these will billow over any unsightly oiltank, disguise a less than perfect fence and will scramble up any walls. If you need a larger rose, see the full range of rambling rose bushes and plants available for sale.
Narrow Water is relatively unfussy about aspect, even growing confidently on a north facing wall and in relatively poor soil up to about 2.5 m high and will spread for about 2m. You won’t need a giant ladder to keep Narrow Water in check but it will still give you the floral coverage that you want backed up by beautiful healthy foliage. And finally, because Narrow Water belongs to the Moschata Group of roses it has that amazingly sultry smell associated with musk and heavy, romantic perfumes.
Bearing its scent in mind, it would be a shame to relegate Narrow Water to a backwater; plant it somewhere with lots of footfall so that you benefit from its heady scent – over the porch, by the back door, on the garage wall. Its excellent climbing ability means that it will readily clamber through small trees. Fruit trees make the best companions because the roses come out just after the fruit blossom has faded and keep the tree colourful until it bears fruit in the autumn. The pink colouring is firm but not assertive, fraternising with stronger pinks and purples easily but harmonising well with paler colours and would provide a lovely backdrop to a pastel scheme.
Narrow Water was named after the eponymous castle Northern Ireland. Narrow Water (the building) is an Elizabethan revival castle built out of granite in the late 1800s to look over Carlingford Lough close to Warrenpoint.