Ready for a rosy summer? Pruning and planting now is perfect prep for summer blooms
Let’s imagine strolling through a rose garden on a warm June evening. Now pause by a pergola to admire the climbers in full, fragrant flower. The lightest breeze wafts a confetti of petals while nightingales sing in a neighbouring wood. How romantic would that be?
Back here on Earth, all November roses look horrible. When you’ve pruned them they’ll be much neater, but still look horrible. But in summer ooh la la! That’s why almost everyone loves roses. They’re the mega stars for midsummer colour, fragrance and romance.
This is the season for pruning roses, and planting, too. Bare root plants are available from now to late March. You can buy containerised plants at any time but I’ve always preferred bare root plants. Being dormant, they settle quickly and grow more robustly in their first year.
Climbing varieties are surpris ingly economical with space. You can train them on any vertical surface provided it receives sun for at least part of the day.
Riot of colour: Rambler Rosa Open Arms will make your garden sparkle in summer
Roses come in all sizes, from miniature shrubs to monster ramblers. With roughly 30,000 named varieties, you’re spoilt for choice. But always make sure your chosen roses have vigour and disease resistance.
UP AND AWAY
Climbers tend to have larger flowers than ramblers. Most but not all repeat after the June flush. Later flowers come in smaller flushes.
Rambling roses produce a spectacular abundance of blooms in June. For some, that’s it. Others continue, but in smaller numbers.
Ramblers are usually more vigorous than climbers. The flowers are usually small to medium, but carried on generous sprays. Seriously pushy varieties such as white Rambling Rector or spring blooming Rosa banksiae will scale a substantial tree, smothering its canopy. On a house wall, both could reach the eaves in a few weeks, so always check the expected size of your chosen plants.
As with all roses, climbers and ramblers come in every colour other than true blue. And if fragrance also matters to you, monitor your choices.
SO MUCH CHOICE
When growing different roses together, good colour harmony makes for a beautiful show. Some people love scarlet and yellow together, others dislike the contrast. Neither is wrong.
For soft blends, the salmon rambler Albertine might team with creamy white Alberic Barbier. Dark -flowered Alec’s Red works well against the old red brick of our house.
If you prefer just a June extravaganza, choose flower heavy, non -repeating ramblers. Examples include ochre and cream Goldfinch, pale pink Open Arms or shocking pink Minnehaha. To extend the show, train companion climbers such as late honeysuckle, potato vine or golden hops.
With roses, the vast number of varieties will always be confus ing. But if you study catalogues or a good book, choosing will be less hazardous. They can be the heart and soul of a garden.