Using English Roses in the garden
English Roses are remarkably adaptable plants. They can be used to excellent effect, in a wide variety of ways. Here are a few suggestions that you may find helpful. If you require further information, a member of our advisory staff will always be happy to help.
Despite the fact that English Roses are shrubs, they look particularly at home in a mixed border; indeed, this is where most people grow them. Their sumptuous blooms provide a welcome contrast to the more light and airy flowers of most herbaceous plants. Their flowers provide ‘weight’ where it might otherwise be missing. It is not difficult to find colours among English Roses that will exist in harmony with other plants. Not least, English Roses flower at just the time when many plants and shrubs are over and continue until the onset of winter. No rose likes too much competition and it is advisable to surround them with plants that are not too robust. Wherever possible, we would always advise planting in groups of three or more although, in small borders, single plants are very satisfactory.
A border of English Roses is hard to beat for sheer exuberance of flower and fragrance. Here again, it is advisable to plant in groups of three or more, to enable each variety to make a definite statement. In the UK they will flower from June until October (longer in warmer climates) and provide a whole range of delicious fragrances. Some people prefer to use a limited range of harmonising colours; using only varieties of white, blush pink, pink, crimson and purple; or alternatively, white, yellow, apricot and peach - but this is in no way essential.
We always think of Hybrid Teas and Floribundas as the ideal bedding roses and there is no doubt that they are very good for this purpose. However, there are a number of English Roses that can be kept at 3 ft, which are equally good; such as Winchester Cathedral, Queen of Sweden, Scepter’d Isle, Molineux, Sophy’s Rose and so on. These are short and bushy and flower even more continuously than a Hybrid Tea. Of course, in large beds the range of possibilities becomes much wider and taller varieties can be used.
For those who have sufficient space, it is possible to plant a rose garden entirely or partly of English Roses. This may be a conventional rose garden or we might consider something more imaginative - perhaps two long borders facing a path and intersected occasionally with other paths. Such a garden could be quite small, or something altogether more extensive. We have created many such gardens around the country and would be pleased to advise you on this subject.
One of the most important developments in English Roses, in recent years, has been the use of these roses as climbers. They usually reach a height of about eight feet, which is ideal for people who would not wish to climb ladders and of course, we can view them to perfection as they will be growing more or less at eye level. English climbers flower unusually freely and continuously, branching all along the stem.
We know of no better roses than English Roses for growing as Standards. Being naturally wide and bushy, they form extra large heads. English Standards are excellent for giving height in the garden. They may also be used as a focal point, or perhaps for planting at intervals along the edge of a path.
As Cut Flowers
Here we have a whole additional way of enjoying roses. English Roses are ideal as cut flowers. They are less stiff in growth than most Modern Roses and it is possible to create a graceful arrangement with attractively nodding flowers.
For those who prefer not to cut blooms from their garden roses, English Cut Rose bouquets are now available by post. What better way of enjoying the beauty and fragrance of the individual flowers than arranging them in a bowl for the house?
For Pots and Urns
Plants in pots and urns on hard areas around the house, have become increasingly popular in recent times. English Roses, with their bushy growth, are particularly good for this purpose. Not only this: many of us today – particularly in large cities – have either very small gardens or a garden that is little more than a patio. For such people, it is still possible to enjoy roses in pots and other containers.
As a Hedge or for Lining a Path
Some of the stronger English Roses form excellent hedges. They will produce a mass of colour throughout the summer. Such hedges may be used along the front of a garden facing the road, or perhaps as a low hedge to divide one part of the garden from another.
Which kind of rose should I use for my garden?
Roses are an incredibly variable and wonderfully versatile group of plants and so can be used to great advantage in a very wide range of situations. Few other plants in the garden flowers over such a long period (often 5 or 6 months), have beautiful individual flowers and a wonderful fragrance.
Roses are great mixers, looking excellent alongside annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees but also look superb alone in a rose garden or border. They can be incorporated into both formal and informal garden styles and even into contemporary gardens where roses will help to soften hard lines. The following will hopefully provide you with some inspiration and also a guide as to which group of roses would be most suitable in specific parts of the garden.
The English Roses, old roses and shrub roses look superb in borders of roses alone or when mixed in with perennials. Many gardeners like to take advantage of the repeat flowering nature of roses which extends the flowering period from June to October. If so, select from the English Roses and shrub roses. If fragrance and general reliability is also important then select from the English Roses, hybrid musks and rugosas.
Planting the roses in bold groups of three or more plants is always much better than single plants. This does depend on the size of your border. A very large border would look better with say five or more per group while a small one would be fine with single specimens. In general, roses that grow 3-4ft/1-1.25m across should be planted about 18"/50cm between plants of the same variety and 3ft/1m between plants of neighbouring varieties. Larger varieties can be spaced a little further apart. The aim is to create the effect of one large plant, much as in a well planted herbaceous border, rather than a number of individuals.
Exactly the same theory goes for mixed borders. However, remember that perennials can be very invasive and roses appreciate, especially in the first year or two, plenty of light and air to get established. Mixing roses and perennials has the advantage of encouraging healthier roses by making it more difficult for the pests and diseases to hop from one plant to another.
Formal Rose Gardens
A well designed and well filled formal rose garden can look superb and can easily be in flower from June to October. Be sure to plant them about 18"/50cm apart to give a good full effect. The hybrid teas and floribundas are the traditional choice but the shorter and more compact English Roses, with their beautiful and often very fragrant flowers, are also excellent.
Climbing and Rambling Roses
Roses make some of the best of all climbing plants, perfect for growing against walls, trellises and fences, to grow over arches, to cover obelisks, garages and sheds and to clamber up into trees. The English Roses make superb short climbers to 6-10ft/2-3m and are particularly good at flowering from close to the ground upwards. Most are fragrant, repeat flower well and are easy to control and look after. The ramblers are the best choice for trees and growing over garages or sheds as they are generally much more vigorous and so can cope with the competition with the tree roots and/or poor soil. They have elegant, lax growth.
Roses can be extremely effective for planting as an eye-catching specimen in a lawn using either a single, substantial plant or a tight group of three or more. The English Roses and some of the shrub roses (like the hybrid musks) would be excellent as they can form very attractive rounded shrubs and have a good fragrance.
The species and their near hybrids are superb plants, perfect for wilder parts of the garden. They have two and sometimes three different seasons of interest – flowers, hips and autumn foliage. Apart from the species there are varieties that give a very similar effect like Shropshire Lass and Scarlet Fire and some, like The Alexandra Rose, repeat flower.
Roses can be very effective in large pots and half barrels, although do ensure that they are watered very regularly. The smaller, more compact varieties are the most suitable, for example the floribundas, patios, polyanthas, miniatures as well as the shorter English Roses especially as they are fragrant.