It was a gorgeous sunny day and what better way to spend it than to pick a local garden centre and head down to see what was on offer. It was the first time I had been to a garden centre in months – months! and I was determined to make up for lost time.
I wasn’t on the look out for any plants in particular but my brain suddenly fired when I was in the climbing roses section. You see, for some time I have had grand visions of roses scrambling through the trees at the back of the garden and filling the boughs with a spectacular show of flowers.
However, these trees are mature and they are very tall, it needs more than your average climbing rose to take them on and survive. It was going to need some very special roses indeed, it was going to need these:
Yes, they look small and pathetic now but just you wait, these roses are dragons, really. Let me introduce you to them (just watch out for the thorns):
- Rosa “New Dawn”
- Rosa “Rambling Rector”
- Rosa “Albéric Barbier”
- Rosa Filipes “Kiftsgate”
(I also wanted “Paul’s Himalayan Musk”, but they didn’t have it so I will have to get it on another occasion.)
Those of you who know about these roses, please feel free to begin calling me an idiot for introducing them into the garden.
For those that don’t, here’s a quick summary:
Rosa “New Dawn” is a beautiful light pink, fragrant climber that grows to 3-4 metres up and across. A mature, well pampered “New Dawn” can be larger. I’ve wanted this rose for a while because of it’s name, colour and fragrance. It was one of the roses I was particularly taken with at a National Trust garden so it made a space for itself on my mental shopping list but it was far too large for the garden we had at the time. It isn’t now.
Rosa “Rambling Rector” is likely to be more widely known than the others. It is a vigorous rambling rose with sprays of creamy white, fragrant flowers. It is known for its dense (read: impenetrable) arching growth and can reach 5 metres high and about 4 metres across. With vicious thorns, it will easily overwhelm surrounding shrubs and plants that are unfortunate to get in its way.
Rosa “Albéric Barbier” is a lightly scented white and lemon rambling rose. The foliage is nearly evergreen so is good for covering walls and buildings. Just make sure it’s a tall wall because this rose can grow up to 7 metres high and spread to about 4 metres across. A small arch or arbour is not going to do it justice and it will do its best to escape, this is a large rose and needs a mature tree or large structure to support it.
Finally we have Rosa Filipes “Kiftsgate”, the reputation of this rambling rose precedes it. Highly vigorous and producing large sprays of creamy white, single, fragrant flowers, this is an exquisite rose with a seriously rampant habit. Able to climb 12 metres high and spread out to over 7 metres across, this is beyond the ability of most gardens to contain. Kiftsgate will not be constrained to an arch, it will not submit to being pruned, it may barely tolerate being tied down to a pergola, it won’t appreciate fences and will make light work of walls. This is a rose for growing into only the largest, sturdiest trees, any less will not survive.
The plan is to place these roses along the back of the garden among the beeches and pines. where they will scramble up into the branches and cascade down. Each year, these will burst into a magnificent display of flowers, a veritable starburst among a backdrop of dark foliage.
At the moment these roses will overwinter in their pots while I try and sort out the planting sites at the back and rig up some rope to give the roses a bit of a helping hand into the lower branches. From then on it’s a matter of simply hoping the roses survive and become established and then waiting for them to take off to claim that area of the garden as their own.
This could either be one of the most incredible shows in the garden in years to come, or it could be a complete nightmare and a total failure. Unfortunately, it’s going to be several years before I find out whether I made the best impulse buy yet, or whether I will hear the words “I told you so” coming smugly from the other half.
Here be dragons, they will lure you with their promise, captivate you with their heavenly fragrance, dazzle you with their breath-taking displays and overwhelm you with their vigorous habit.
Be very aware.