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The Wheelbarrow Gardener - A bed of roses... Part two

The Wheelbarrow Gardener - A bed of roses... Part two

In the last issue, Trevor Bridge introduced us to the beauty of Old Garden Roses. Here he moves on to Modern Roses and take us through the all-important planting, maintenance and propagation techniques...






During the 1970’s when I trained as a landscape architect in the UK, we were told to shun roses in favour of just about any other plant in our designs. This was a reaction to the prevalence of hybrid tea roses growing in neat bare beds throughout the country in parks and gardens at that time. Thankfully, there has since been a resurgence of popularity in roses, although lower-maintenance types are now more in demand. The hybrid tea, however, is still the most popular rose, favoured in formal gardens.




HYBRID TEA ROSES - ROSIER HYBRIDE DE THÉ are what most of us think of as the classic, attractive rose flower and they are the most popular rose. They combine the hardiness and vigour of Hybrid Perpetual roses with the refinement, range of colours and beautiful fragrance of Tea roses. They are repeat bloomers and, with their long straight stems, they make excellent cut flowers and excel in formal planting beds.

Rosa ‘George Dickson’ has large, scarlet-crimson, double blooms. It bows its heads and attains 1.2m in height.

Rosa ‘Michèle Meilland Bush’ has slender, orange buds, opening to coppery-pink double blooms. It is free-flowering, robust and disease-resistant, reaching 70cm high.

Rosa ‘Mme Abel Chatenay’ is one of the most beautiful Hybrid Teas with elegant pink blooms on a 1m high bush.

Rosa ‘La France’ has pale pink, full-petalled flowers, like a Bourbon, attaining 1m in height.

Rosa ‘Peace’ has light yellow, occasionally lightly flushed with pink, large, globular blooms on a 1.2m high strong shrub.



POLYANTHA ROSES - ROSIER POLYANTHA continually produce white, pink, yellow, red or orange clusters of small single blooms. They are hardy, low growing, compact plants up to 75cm high that make good edging and hedge plants or en masse as groundcover.

Rosa ‘Louis Bleriot’ has semi-double large flesh-pink flowers with a darker reverse.

Rosa ‘China Doll’ is a dwarf rose growing to only 45cm tall, and covers itself all season long with large clusters of lightly-scented vibrant pink flowers.

Rosa ‘Margo Koster’ is 75cm high and bears clusters of coral-pink double blooms and is almost thorn-free.

Rosa 'White Pet' is an old polyantha, dating from 1897, but retains its popularity today for its sheer excellence.



FLORIBUNDA ROSES - ROSIER FLORIBUNDA are a cross between hybrid teas and polyanthas. They are smaller and bushier than hybrid teas but less dense and sprawling than polyanthas. They have large effective clusters of flowers in a wide range of colours and are used extensively in large bedding schemes.

Rosa ‘Iceberg’ has masses of cool-white double blooms and light green glossy foliage.

Rosa ‘Anthony Meilland’ produces bright yellow unfading double flowers on a vigorous bush.

Rosa ‘Preference’ has freely produced repeating scarlet flowers that do not fade in the heat. It has a very compact habit.

Rosa ‘Queen Elizabeth’ is extremely vigorous and produces numerous pink, globular flowers on long upright stems. It is ideal for the back of the border.



GRANDIFLORA ROSES - ROSIER GRANDIFLORA are a cross between hybrid teas and floribundas. They bloom repeatedly during the season in clusters and are elegant 2 metre high plants, making them perfect at the back of the garden. They are wonderful for cutting.

Rosa ‘Sonia’ is a very popular rose with fragrant semi-double pink flowers with peachy-yellow undertones.

Rosa ‘Crimson Bouquet’ is a beautiful bright red rose with brilliant clusters of flowers offset by glossy, deep green foliage.

Rosa ‘Glowing Peace’ is upright and bushy, 1m tall with mild tea-scented, yellow flowers with orange edges.



RAMBLING ROSES - ROSIER LIANE are very attractive and easily maintained. Ramblers send up strong, long, slender, graceful stems from the base, ideal for covering large areas. They produce large sprays of smallish flowers once a year and beautiful hips favoured by flower arrangers.

Rosa ‘Albertine’ is popular and reliable, bearing reddish-pink buds, opening to large, strongly scented, coppery pink, almost double flowers.

Rosa ‘Bleu Magenta’ produces richly-coloured violet crimson flowers. It contrasts well with other roses.

Rosa ‘Dentelle de Malines’ is an excellent rambler or a large ground cover rose with dainty sprays of bright pink, cup-shaped flowers.

Rosa ‘Félicité et Perpétue’ is a strong reliable rambler with large clusters of delicately perfumed, closely packed, creamy-white, pompom flowers.



CLIMBING ROSES - ROSIER GRIMPANT have large flowers held singly or in small groups, compared to the clusters of small flowers of ramblers. Climbers produce more flowers after the first flush whilst ramblers flower once each year. Climbers make a permanent framework of canes with side shoots on which flowers are borne.

Rosa ‘Aloha’ is a popular free-flowering short climber bearing strongly scented, cupped, pink ‘old fashioned’ flowers.

Rosa ‘Iceberg Climbing’ is vigorous and bears fragrant, double, pure white flowers throughout the season.

Rosa ‘Etoile d’Hollande’ has deep crimson flowers with a very strong fragrance. It is a beautiful vigorous rose.

Rosa ‘New Dawn’ has clusters of medium sized, scented, silvery blush-pink flowers. It is the forerunner of modern perpetual-flowering climbers, and still one of the best.

Rosa ‘Mermaid’ has single, sulphur yellow flowers with wide elegant petals and amber coloured stamens. Disease resistant, it is a little tender requiring a sheltered sunny wall. It requires no pruning, except to remove old wood.

Rosa ‘Paul's Scarlet’ is a very free-flowering old climber reaching 4.5m high. It is popular in Poitou-Charentes gardens due to its ease of growth and intense red flowers.

Rosa ‘Pierre de Ronsard’ is a perpetually flowering 'old fashioned' climber with fragrant creamy-white double blooms and dark green foliage.

Rosa ‘Stairway to Heaven’ with its large, ruffled red flowers is one of the most prolific climbers and blooms early.



RUGOSA ROSES - ROSIER RUGUEUX form large, dense shrubs with luxuriant leaves. They thrive in poor conditions, are easily grown and disease resistant. Their flowers range from single to double and many are fragrant. Most flower through the summer and bear large hips. They make good informal hedges and screens, and tolerate sandy soil and salt spray, making them suitable for seaside gardens.

Rosa rugosa ‘Belle Poitevine’ was bred in Poitou-Charentes and has beautiful large spicy-fragrant double purple blooms.

Rosa rugosa ‘Rubra’ produces abundant, scented, lovely wine-red blooms.

Rosa rugosa ‘Frau Dagmar Hastrup’ has masses of light pink, single flowers.

Rosa rugosa ‘Blanc Double de Coubert’ produces pure white, fragrant blooms.



HYBRID MUSK ROSES - ROSIER HYBRIDE DE MOSCHATA bear flowers in large trusses with long, graceful growth and delicate colours. They flower profusely in early summer then intermittently and many have a lovely musky fragrance. They tolerate some shade. The taller ones make excellent short climbers.

Rosa ‘Buff Beauty’ has beautiful clusters of fragrant, full, yellow blooms with arching foliage attaining 1.2m.

Rosa ‘Cornelia’ has masses of richly-scented small pink blooms. It is 1.5m high and can be used for hedging.

Rosa ‘Moonlight’ has dark brown stems and dark green leaves which form a backdrop for scented, semi-double, white flowers. It grows to 2m high.



GROUND COVER ROSES ROSIER COUVRE-SOL are spreading plants producing masses of small flowers that repeat very well. They are good for
covering banks and at the front of beds.

Rosa ‘Nozomi’ has masses of small pink flowers and semi-glossy foliage on a small spreading plant. It is good for containers and mass planting.

Rosa 'Pink Drift’ is vigorous, low and creeping. Its flowers have bright pink petals and a large yellow center. It has outstanding disease resistance.

Rosa ‘Rose du Soleil’ provides a carpet of pure white blooms with golden stamens from spring to autumn. It is vigorous and easily maintained.

Rosa ‘Red Blanket’ is a superb spreading ground cover rose up to 75cm in height with dark foliage and double, deep red flowers.



ENGLISH ROSES - ROSIER ANGLAIS were introduced by David Austin. They are crosses between Old Roses, Modern Hybrid Teas and Floribundas and combine the Old Rose charm and fragrance with the wide colour range and repeat flowering of a Modern Rose.

Rosa ‘Graham Thomas’ produces rich, pure yellow, cup-shaped flowers that repeat from early summer onwards. It has attractive, smooth green foliage.

Rosa ‘Falstaff’ has beautiful dark crimson/purple blooms on a vigorous bush. It has a powerful fragrance and with support can be grown as a short climber.

Rosa ‘A Shropshire Lad’ is a strong growing shrub rose that can also be grown as a climber. It produces cupped, peachy-pink blooms with a fruity fragrance.




Roses are easy to grow, live a long time if maintained well, and grow in almost any well-drained soil. There are roses for just about any position: on a patio, in formal beds, rambling over an old wall, climbing a fence or trellis, covering the ground in front of a border or as a backdrop at the rear of a bed.

Bare-root roses

Planted from November to March.

They are good value and often have a wider root spread than container-grown roses. Growers also place bare-root plants in pots in growing media to prevent them from drying out. These are sold as containerised roses, not to be confused with container-grown roses. Plant bare-root and containerised roses immediately after purchase, unless the ground is frozen.


Container-grown roses

They are sold throughout the year and have been grown for a year or more in their pot. They can be planted at any time, but are often poorer quality than bare-root stock and more expensive.

To plant, incorporate one bucket per square metre of well-rotted garden compost or manure into the soil to give your roses a flying start. Dig a hole twice the size of the root spread, one spade deep. Plant with the graft at soil level, not below, and gently backfill the soil.

Before planting, tease out roots of containerised plants or they will develop slowly. Remember to water well.




Watering, mulching & weeding

For the first few years after planting, especially where the soil is dry, water thoroughly. Mulch with well-rotted organic matter to help water retention and deter weeds. Avoid hoeing around roses as you could damage their roots which are close to the surface. Hand-weeding is preferable but careful use of a fork may be necessary with persistent weeds.



OLD GARDEN ROSES - These require little pruning, just the removal of weak and old growth. Larger plants may be reduced by one third, if desired.

HYBRID TEA ROSES - Annually prune hard back to 10-15cm from ground level.

POLYANTHA ROSES - Cut back the main stems to 25-45cm above the ground. Reduce side shoots to two or three buds. To encourage vigorous growth, cut back a third of the oldest stems almost to their base.

FLORIBUNDA ROSES - Prune moderately hard back to about 15cm above ground level.

GRANDIFLORA ROSES - Prune as for Hybrid tea roses.

RAMBLING ROSES - After planting, prune stems back to 40cm and train the shoots by fanning them out, tying in new stems horizontally. Then prune to shape after blooming and remove one third of old stems each year to encourage plants to send up new growth from the crown.

CLIMBING ROSES - The object with climbers is to fan out long, new growth, tying them to the structure to cover it. Horizontal stems produce more buds that will develop into new flowering stems. Once the basic framework has formed, after the new flowering stems finish blooming, summer prune them back to 3 to 4 sets of leaves.

RUGOSA ROSES - Prune to suit their situation, into a hedge, or just leave unpruned.

HYBRID MUSK ROSES - If required, shape or reduce, but otherwise they need no pruning.

GROUND COVER ROSES - Prune if they outgrow their space, but otherwise they can be left alone.

ENGLISH ROSES - Prune lightly or hard to keep them to the height and form required. Summer pruning of vigorous varieties after each flush of flowers encourages repeat flowering and limits the height of the rose. Do this by cutting back the flowering stems, leaving two or three buds remaining on this season's new growth.





Grafting of roses requires skill and practice and is probably too complicated for most home gardeners. If, however, you wish to take cuttings from a favourite rose it is worth trying.

- Choose pencil-thick straight stems of this year’s growth and cut off just below a leaf node. Make the cuttings 25cm long by cutting above a leaf node at the top to remove the shoot tip. Leave just two leaves at the top and remove the rest.

- Bury the cuttings 15cm deep in the ground or around the outside of a pot of gritty compost. Water them well.

- Roots will be produced over winter and then in spring or early summer they can be carefully lifted and replanted in their final position.



Trevor is a landscape architect who ran a busy practice in the UK for 20 years. He and his wife Jocelyn moved to an ancient fermette in Poitou-Charentes in 2004 where they garden organically and keep bees and hens.




- The legendary ‘La France’ rose was the first Hybrid Tea Rose, introduced by Jean-Baptiste Guillot of Lyon in 1867.

- In 1939, when an international rose growers’ conference group in Lyon visited grower Francis Meilland, a particular bloom caught their attention. Shortly before France was invaded by the Nazis, M Meilland sent this plant to the US. After France was liberated, the plant was named ‘Peace’. In 1945, the American Rose Society sent each delegation at the inaugural meeting of the UN a rose with the note: “We hope the ‘Peace’ rose will influence men’s thoughts for everlasting world peace.”

- Roses make lovely presents. Many have the names of people such as ‘Amelia’, ‘Ann’, ‘Charlotte’, ‘Chris’, ‘Ellen’, ‘Evelyn’, ‘Janet’, Julia’s Rose’, ‘Miss Alice’ and ‘Penelope’. See if you can locate one with the name of a friend or loved one. Names of some roses express sentiment or celebration such as ‘Blessings’, ‘Champagne Moment,’ ‘Congratulations’, ‘Compassion’, ‘Crème de la Crème’, ‘Golden Celebration’, ‘Nostalgia’, ‘Peace’, ‘Thinking of You’ or ‘Wedding Day’.




Pressed rosehip oil, extracted from the seeds of French wild roses, is gaining popularity as it is said to be highly nutritious to the skin.