On the Opening of Roses

A few posts ago I wrote about a June trip to Mottisfont, home of the National Collection of old-fashioned roses, where the overall effect was so overwhelming, it gave me an out-of-body horticultural experience before I even got to the ticket booth. Coming back to my own garden I realised that while I can’t compete with a National Collection, I’m not slacking in the rose department either; though they’re all at various stages of growth – with some still in pots, waiting to be planted and others just establishing after being planted as bare root in the winter – many are coming into flower and the effect is eye-catching and promises to be jaw-dropping in future years as these “Queen of flowers” mature.

Gertrude Jekyll Climbing a Rose Tower

Rosa Gertrude Jekyll in the front garden.

In the front garden, a “Teasing Georgia” and “Gertrude Jekyll” are planted either side of the ornamental cherry. Both are flowering well despite having suffered from deer with a case of the munchies in spring, they have gradually recovered and are dotted all over with flowers. “Teasing Georgia” has Clematis “The President” growing through it – rather it did have – the small, single-stemmed clematis I planted snapped close to the base in windy weather. Thankfully it has survived and there are new leaves emerging from the only leaf nodes the poor plant was left with. The clematis is currently far, far smaller than it was when originally purchased, which is about right when it comes to my record with Clematis.

Miniature Patio Rose in a Border

Miniature patio rose planted in the border.

The Rosa Banksiae Lutea isn’t showing much sign of growth, but don’t let this lull you into a false sense of security. It spends a whole season not really doing much or getting anywhere and just when you think it’s never going to change, it throws up a thick rose cane as tall as the house in a single summer. This is what the last one did and I don’t expect this one will be any different. At the moment all there is, is a mass of leaves mingled with the Wisteria to show for my efforts.

Wisteria Floribunda and Rosa Banksiae Lutea

Wisteria Floribunda and Rosa Banksiae Lutea getting to know each other.

Madame Alfred Carrière is a rose from the past; we saw this at Mottisfont and remarked on just how large it can get. It has a fragrance that I immediately associate with rose gardens, sunny days out, gentle walks and pleasurable perambulating ending in cream teas and cake. This is a rose with sentimental value that transports me to happy days in the past when I smell it. At the moment, it seems to be done flowering and has put on a lot of fresh green growth that we will tie in later in the summer.

Rosa Strawberry Hill Readying a Second Flowering

Rosa Strawberry Hill readying a second flowering flush.

Strawberry Hill has made a spectacular show this year after putting on some impressive spring growth. This was planted when Magnolia Hill was created and it seems to be making up for lost time after spending 2014 in a pot on the patio. The flowers are informal and smell of hand cream. It’s a wonderful rose that can be seen wrapped round its obelisk from all windows at the back of the house. This will be one to watch (and smell) in subsequent years.

The Bay Window Border is planted with seven roses that went in as bare root this winter just gone after the whole border itself was rejuvenated. The hard work with tilling the soil has paid off though, with all roses going in for flowering this year. “Olivia Rose Austin” has exquisite flowers, each one framed by an ordered outer circle of petals giving way to a ruffled interior. “Princess Alexandra of Kent” has huge fragrant flowers that are too heavy for the stems to hold up. “Munstead Wood” is a sumptuous deep red where the flower itself looks to be made of velvet. “Jude the Obscure” is on the verge of opening, “Wollerton Old Hall” has clusters of flowers that are too heavy to be held up, just like “The Generous Gardener”. A lovely perfume casually wafts into the house on warm days when the lounge windows are left open.

The top of Kiftsgate

You now need a 3-section ladder to reach the top of Rosa Kiftsgate.

The dragons – rambling roses planted at the back of the garden – are taking their time to get established. “Rambling Rector” is suffering with a lack of sun and continually being nibbled by deer. We have had to protect it with some wire fencing to give it a break and let it grow more than two feet off the ground. “Alberic Barbier” needs tying to the tree and keeps throwing up new canes that the deer help themselves to. “Kiftsgate” on the other hand, has one cane that had grown very tall, to the point of having to get the three-section ladder out to guide the top into the wire framework that I wrapped around the tree last year. “New Dawn” is waiting to be planted and “Paul’s Himalayan Musk” is heeled into a temporary bed waiting to be planted in the winter.

There are a couple of other roses about too, bringing the total to about twenty or so. It’s scary that I’ve so easily managed to get to this many without effort. I’ve been banned from buying more, but I know that’s only temporary.

Rosa Graham Thomas

Rosa “Graham Thomas” giving a second spectacular flowering flush

The garden in July is very much that of roses.

12 Comments


  1. How gorgeous! I can (almost) smell the through the photos. I especially love the two closeups: the miniature patio rose and ‘Graham Thomas.’ I trust the ban on buying is indeed only temporary. You’ll always need to plant a few extras for the deer 🙁

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    1. Hello Emily, the ban should last until I produce a massive towering arrangement of fragrant roses for my other half, at which point they will have no option but accede to their beauty and charm!

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  2. Yours are looking so healthy and happy! I have many different roses, all of which have blackspot (I believe that at some point in the past there were many roses in this garden – but not recent) Some of mine even get blackspot when their “habit” is described as blackspot free! Still, they flower and smell and that’s the thing….. but all your leaves look so posh. Enjoy them, truly the queen of flowers.

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    1. Hello Mrs Mac, mine do get black spot too, usually towards the end of the season and to varying degrees. It is a pain to deal with but I hope I can keep it under control. I think the effort is well worth the reward of seeing obelisks, borders and arches festooned with these gorgeous flowers.

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  3. Your roses are doing quite well and, as usual, your photos are superb.

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    1. Hello Alain, thank you! For every picture that goes on the blog there are about a dozen that fail Q&A. The ones that do make it are usually down to fluke.

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  4. I am totally slacking in the rose department and chose to pull out one of my favorite roses rather than spray it to deal with the blackspot. But our climates are very different and growing roses here without chemicals is a huge challenge. Yours are beauties. I do wish I had more. 🙁

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    1. Hello Tammy, I try and lay off the chemicals as much as I can but I do use fungicide to keep the black spot under control. I resort to hand-squishing to keep pests like aphids, sawfly and black fly under control and that seems to work well without having to use insecticide.

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  5. Twenty roses – you do indeed have an impressive collection!. ‘Graham Thomas’ is my favorite, I think, among the ones you’ve shown here. Sounds like your rose display will only get more magnificent,

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    1. Hello Jason, I have big hopes for my roses, especially the one that will be growing along the front of the house – that one will be slow into coming. It’s surprising that I have 20 different varieties, the garden just seems to have “absorbed” them without any effort. Whether it can contain Rosa Kiftsgate when it matures is another question!

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  6. I think I have rose envy! Your roses are beautiful, and strategies like growing roses up trees and weaving clematis through roses are very English. I’m planning to add my first roses to the garden next year; I’d be happy to do half as well with them as you.

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    1. Hello Jean, roses and clematis are renowned companion plants and anything in the garden that’s vertical and doesn’t move much is fair-game for having a clematis planted next to it. I’ve got a plain box shrub by the front door that is being tarted up by a clematis that is beginning to grow and flower through it!

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