And some of them have been blooming for several weeks already!
There is a rose for every garden situation and a rose that will be your favourite too. I love having roses in the garden, and I enjoy having them in the vase as cut flowers. Roses are the most-loved garden flowers, admired for their range of wonderful flower colours; in many cases, for their scent, and often because they have good foliage, that lasts well on the plant. You can grow roses in all sorts of garden situations – in containers, in the border as shrubs, as climbers, as standards and as ground cover.
My love for roses began several decades ago when I first saw some of the old-fashioned roses produced by Peter Beales in Norfolk (www.classicroses.co.uk).
I learned then about groups of roses with wonderfully exotic names: Gallicas, Damasks, Albas, Moss roses and the repeat-flowering Portlands, Bourbons and China roses. The roses are as lovely as the names of the groups they belong too.
Among my favourites is the variegated rose, Rosa Mundi (Rosa gallica ‘Versicolor’). It is a Gallica rose and is a sport of the red-flowered Rosa gallica ‘Officinalis’, which is known as ‘the Apothecary’s Rose and also as the ‘Red Rose of Lancaster’. Both are roses with a long history; they are free-flowering and wonderfully scented. I love the swirling raspberry-ripple effect of the flowers of Rosa Mundi. I haven’t planted it in my relatively new (been here seven years) garden, but there might still be a space for it: it grows to a height and spread of up to 1m over time.
Currently I have several roses in the garden that will romp away and cover walls, but for the moment R. ‘City of York’, a repeat-flowering, rambler rose with a white-cream flower, is recovering from a prolonged stay in a container. But once it gets going on the back wall of the garden I expect it to grow to a height of at least 4m and an indeterminate spread.
Another of my favourite roses is R. banksiae ‘Lutea’, which has been in our gardens since its introduction in the 1800s. It is one of the first climbing roses that I planted to clad the pole and wire system that one of my gardening friends devised for me. The aim of the supports was just that, to be supports so that I could grow climbing plants including roses and clematis, to provide a floral and foliage screen, breaking the garden down into smaller areas. The Banksian rose is early-flowering, producing abundant clusters of small, but semi-double, yellow roses. It is lightly fragrant and thornless, another bonus.
If I had the space I would choose ‘Rambling Rector’ to clamber into an old apple tree or a field hedge. This Multiflora rose has a wonderful perfume and its mass of small creamy white flowers is followed by small colourful hips in autumn, but it does live up to its name and rambles…
Also in the garden are several of the English roses from David Austin (www.davidaustinroses.com). These are new roses bred and introduced by David Austin, which he describes as ‘new roses in the old tradition’. There are so many to choose from in the David Austin catalogue, but one of my choices is ‘Graham Thomas’, which has beautifully cupped yellow flowers and a delicious fragrance.
Although the roses in my garden are full of buds and look extremely healthy, only a few are in flower early. My favourite is a new rose bought last year, R. ‘Bengal Beauty’; its single flowers are red and fragrant and it has been flowering for a week or two. Its spring foliage is just as dazzling as its flowers.
Also flowering at the moment are ‘ Kew Gardens’ with its pastel yellow flowers and gentle perfume, and R. x odorata ‘Mutabilis’ with its ever-changing colours.
Roses are among the loveliest plants in a garden, so give them a good start. If you can’t plant bare-root roses straight away, keep them hydrated in a bucket of water, but plant them as soon as you can. Keep container-grown plants well watered and soak them before you plant them. Dig a hole to at least a depth of 50cm. You can add compost or well-rotted manure to the soil. Place the plant in the hole and spread its roots out, then fill the hole with soil. Water the plant well and don’t let it dry out during the first year it is establishing. Mulch the soil surface with compost to prevent water loss.
Then you will just have to wait for the burst of colour and fragrance as the roses establish.