Inspired to plant a rose? Don’t hold back. Contrary to popular belief, roses are not difficult to grow and there are beautiful easy-care varieties to suit every situation.
Roses as hedges and block planting
Bold and deliberate mass planting brings strength and character to a garden. If you have the space, a mass of just one rose variety is a breathtaking sight. Choose a variety that looks great for as long as possible. Good foliage and form are important. Ideally, there will be a fabulous long-season flower show, and maybe an autumn display of bright red hips (great for picking). The rugosa roses make excellent hedges because of their showy hips and attractive disease resistant foliage.
Steer clear of varieties prone to problems when mass planting. Unhealthy plants are even more unsightly when you have to look at them en masse! Pruning should be quick and easy. If you want to avoid winter bareness combine a mass planting of roses with a neatly trimmed evergreen hedge, such as Buxus (English box) or Corokia.
Ground covering roses
Roses may not be the first plants you think of when you have an expanse of ground to cover, a difficult clay slope or an ugly retaining wall that needs a facelift. But they can be the perfect solution in all these situations.
A good groundcover rose will grow fast and strongly to block the weeds. It will have a dense multi-branching growth with a good covering of small disease resistant leaves. Ideally it will produce loads of flowers over a very long season. Although roses are deciduous, many are only without leaves for a short period (when there are few weeds to worry about). After a quick winter cut back they’ll burst out with refreshed vigour in early spring.
Ground cover roses
Roses in pots
Roses can be grown in pots when paying attention to providing plenty of water and nutrients. Smaller bush roses will thrive in a generous sized container filled with good potting mix. Choose varieties with compact multi-branching growth, a tidy shape and small leaves. Regular watering and feeding is important and small pots are best avoided.
Roses for pots
In mixed company
Roses don’t need to be in a formal rose garden. Many of them fit the description ‘shrub rose’ and slot as easily into a mixed garden as any other flowering shrub. An informal cottage garden look is easy to maintain if you choose easy-care roses that remain healthy without spraying and are easily pruned. The likes of Flower Carpet Roses are great for mixing in with other shrubs and flowering perennials. Be sure to include some evergreen shrubs and foliage plants so that your garden doesn’t look bare in winter. Shrub roses come in just about every colour, so you might want to choose a colour theme with roses and companion plants in complementary colours. For example, an all white garden, a pink garden, a hot red and orange border, or classic yellow and blue.
Shrub roses for informal gardens
A standard rose is one that has been grafted onto a tall rose stock (80-120cm high) with a ball of foliage and flowers on top, like a mini tree. Often used in formal gardens, and ideal for small gardens, standard roses provide the benefit of flowers at eye level with room for another layer of planting below. They also give instant height without growing too much bigger (as opposed to planting a tree). Practically any rose variety can be grafted onto a standard, but those with a bushy or weeping habit and lots of small to medium sized flowers look the most elegant. Tall varieties are not ideal as standards as they become lanky and ungainly. For extra impact standard roses are often planted in groups of one variety, or as a feature in a large pot under-planted with low trailing plants.
Recommended Standard Roses
Roses on trellis
Trellis is useful for creating quick privacy or to screen an unsightly view, and lovely with roses. Most trellis is not as robust as a wall or a fence, so choose a moderate climbing rose, rather than an overly vigorous rambler. If the trellis is near a seating area, look for roses that are not too thorny. Also look for repeat flowering climbers that can be enjoyed all summer long.
Roses for trellis
Over an archway
An archway is the perfect place to grow a romantic old-fashioned rose. Take care to choose one that is not too vigorous for your structure. It should have nice pliable stems, and ideally not too many thorns. Be sure to make you structure tall and wide enough to allow for downward and sideways growth. Since you will be passing though often, you might like to make it a fragrant rose.
Fragrant roses for archways
On an obelisk or pillar
Growing a rose over an obelisk or pillar is a great way to achieve height in the garden. During the winter, the obelisk becomes a feature in its own right. For pillars choose moderate climbing roses or tall shrub roses and prune them to size each winter.
Roses for summer shade
Sitting outdoors in summer is all the more enchanting under the shade of a beautiful pergola adorned with climbing roses. If your structure is strong, you can adorn it with vigorous ramblers. Most of these old timers only flower once (in early summer) but the sheer volume of bloom is worth the wait, and the healthy foliage continues to provide shade throughout summer then falls to let the sun through in winter.
Rambling roses for pergolas and gazebos
Especially for picking
All roses look lovely in a vase, but some are tailor-made for the purpose. The hybrid tea roses are the queens of picking roses with long lasting blooms of classic pointed form borne singly on top of long straight stems. Fragrant old-fashioned roses also look fantastic in a vase, especially charming if you mix fragrant doubles with single flowered blooms. Pick roses in early morning or late evening, plunge them into a bucket of water up to their necks before arranging.
Popular picking roses
Rose Paddy Stephens
Shrub roses in terracotta pots
A hedge row of rambling roses over a fence
Red standard rose in a border of yellow shrub roses