Sombreuil may be an old climbing rose but it still carries one of the most beautiful white/cream scented flowers in the rose world. Each flower is made up of a multitude of petals forming a neatly quartered, flat just off-white rosette. Occasionally there is a hint of pink at the centre and the blooms are magnificently scented. David Austin (and who are we to argue) says that 'In quality and refinement they compare with the very best Old Roses'. Unlike the old roses, however, Sombreuil is a good repeat flowerer and puts on quite a show in autumn when other roses tend to slow down a bit. We have had a flower on Sombreuil on Christmas Day. It is not too big reaching 12ft in a good spot and maybe 5ft wide (4m x 1.5m).
However, if you want something a little more modern or you are looking for companion roses to plant with Sombreuil then have fun going through the complete selection of British grown roses here
Because Sombreuil climbing roses are so hardy they are an excellent choice for exposed sites and for frost pockets. It is, however, one of the most sophisticated roses and with its incredible scent, it really demands a position where it can be seen and smelt often. Brilliant on a pergola or a sunny wall behind a terrace or even just outside the kitchen door which is where we have it as Sombreuil is a family favourite. It is well behaved enough to be grown as a large pillar rose. In all cases, once established it looks magnificent as host to a smaller pink clematis such as Comtesse de Bouchard planted close by.
Probably bred in France by Robert in about 1850 and possibly named after an unlikely heroine of the French Revolution. The story is that Mademoiselle de Sombreuil saved her father's life during the Terror by being prepared to drink a glass of (human) blood offered to her by his persecutors. She always maintained afterwards that it turned out to be wine in a bloodstained glass but she may not have known until, as it were, it was too late. Unfortunately, it only brought about a stay of execution as her father was executed the following year.