Roses are making a comeback, apparently – not that they have ever gone away in my own garden. Whether the upturn in sales is as a result of a need for romanticism, or simply that folk are coming round to the fact that roses are darned good garden plants, I don’t know but I’m glad that the classic English flower is on the up.
My own garden is awash with them – climbing up the house wall, scrambling though trees and erupting in beds and borders.
Shrub roses, which are dotted about in my borders, are my favourites. I love the old-fashioned ones with complex blooms and heady scents like ‘Charles de Mills’ and ‘Tuscany Superb’, as well as ‘Jacques Cartier’, which is unusual in that it can flower off and on right the way through the summer.
Many of the older shrub roses have one brief but glorious season of flower in June and early July but with these I tend to train a clematis up through them.
This means that the roses have, in effect, two seasons of flowering – the rose itself providing one and the clematis the other – but since all the clematis stems are cut away in autumn they do not clutter the rose when it is in flower.
If space is a problem then miniature and patio roses are your best bet and groundcover types that run along the earth and stud their foliage with flowers. Hybrid teas and floribundas are the classic roses we used to grow on their own in beds.
Nowadays they, too, are seen at their best among border perennials. I love the pale pink ‘Belmonte’, which is a floribunda with hybrid tea-shaped flowers carried in profusion on a healthy and vigorous bush.
Disease resistance should be a prime consideration when you buy roses. Look for those with glossy, leathery leaves since they are much more resistant to those two disfiguring diseases mildew and blackspot.
Rich soil, beefed up with plenty of well-rotted manure or garden compost, will get them off to the best possible start and you can buy the plants in containers now and enjoy a…