Mouth-wateringly fruity roses

I love many plants, but it is roses who have stolen my heart.  Tulips have the same colour-range and silken or satin textures; peonies have the blowsy opulence; dahlias have the drama.  Roses have all of this, plus dementingly delicious scent.  There is nothing like burying your nose in a sun-warmed rose and breathing in its perfume.

I’m just warning you now that this is likely to be the first of many posts about roses.

Roses are shockingly easy to grow, particularly on clay soil, which we have in abundance.  All they need is a depth of just over a spade, and a bit more in width, reasonable drainage, a bucketful of compost or manure mixed in with the soil when planting, plus a mulch of the same once a year, and plenty of water in the first year.  I plant mine as bare-roots in November, which gives them time to settle in for an early spring start.  They will only produce a light smattering of blooms in their first year, but from the second year, they will be smothered in flower.  Just keep dead-heading, and pick plenty of them for the kitchen table.

I love old roses, especially the gallicas and bourbons, but they only flower once, in June.  It’s worth it: they are weighed down with flowers for about four weeks.  But to extend the season, I grow David Austin English roses.  These have the voluptuous blooms of the old roses, with petals and petals intermingled, and the wonderful scent (plus some unusual fruity and spicy notes thrown in).  They have the bonus of keeping on producing blooms into November (in fact some of mine were still throwing out the odd flower until yesterday, when I pruned them).

I also have a bit of a thing for rugosa roses, which I first saw in number when visiting my friend Lucy in Denmark.  They grow like weeds along the beaches there, producing magenta or white blooms, often alongside enormous tomato hips.  These are tolerant creatures, and perfect for a hedge.  Which is why I have taken to guerrilla gardening and planted them along the fence in the allotment.

This is the selection that I am growing in my rose garden.  To say I love roses so much, I am not much of a pink girl.  I’m not keen on candyfloss pink or bubble-gum pink, or even blush pink for that matter (though I do love them in other people’s gardens).   But the colour variation within these roses is mouth-watering. They are all a little bit fruity, with tones of plum, damson, blackcurrant, raspberry,  peach and apricot. Weirdly, the scent often matches this.

First up (clockwise from left, below) are the divinely blackcurrant, with a touch of silver ‘Young Lycidas’, the huge-flowered cherry-pink ‘Lady of Megginch’ and the peachy-pink ‘Boscobel’.

 

Then (clockwise from left, below) there is my favourite warm apricot-orange ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’, whose maroon foliage sets off her flowers.  ‘Princess Anne’ is rich pink with mauve undertones, and ‘Princess Alexandra of Kent’ is a delicate pink, with seductive silken petals.

 

You might think that’s enough roses, but no, we’re not done.  We’ve still got (clockwise from left, below) the ever-flowering tough little nut ‘England’s Rose’.  the flowers are small but they shout loud.  Then the Bourbon rose, ‘Mme Isaac Pereire’, which I’m trying as a climber (the most powerfully scented rose I know) and the irresistibly peachy ‘Roald Dahl’.

 

And just to make sure I can properly indulge this fetish, I have made room for three more (clockwise from left, below).  There is the gallica ‘Sissinghurst Castle’, another little bruiser.  Smack-bang in the middle of my rose garden is the rugosa rose ‘Hansa’, which is the most purple of roses, with hips as a bonus, and gorgeous wrinkled, leathery leaves. And finally, my favourite gallica, the velvet rose, ‘Tuscany Superb’.  There I’m done.  Satiated at last.

 

I grow these roses with plum, purple, lilac and white herbaceous perennials.  There are towering spires of hollyhocks , Alcea rosea ‘Halo Lavender’ and ‘Halo Blush’, moody spikes of Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ and Lupinus ‘Thunderclouds’ pillows of Geranium himalayense ‘Graveteye’, G. ‘Orion’, G. ‘Brookside’, G. ‘Anne Thomson’ and G. psilostemon, and nodding bells of Penstemon ‘Raven’ and ‘Sour Grapes’.  In March, I will also add some silvery-blue spikes, with Echinops ritro ‘Veitch’s Blue’ and the sea holly, Eryngium alpina.  These two will offset the outrageous bosomy pillows of the bourbon rose ‘Mme Isaac Pereire’.

One more thing.  I generally plant roses in groups of three (about 60cm apart), as David Austin recommends.  They grow into one another, and give a lovely full, plumptious mound.  You also feel you have enough of each variety to pick in abundance.

I’ll add photos of the rose garden as it drvelops this year, so you can see the plant combinations as they develop.  Thank you for indulging me, and do comment below about your favourite roses.  I know I’m not the only one with this condition.

Picture credits: https://www.davidaustinroses.co.uk/

18 Comments Add yours

  1. annpappas says:

    I’ve done a few blogs about various rose gardens and our local rose nursery and as much as I love them, they don’t like me – or perhaps our very sandy soil is the culprit.

    Like

    1. Ali says:

      Ah, sorry to hear that, Ann. I have heard of people ordering in clay to grow roses! So I think you’re right – does your soul dry out quickly?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. annpappas says:

        It dries out very fast and we also have oily soil syndrome where the water does not even soak in. All this not helped by the very serious drought we’re having here in Cape Town 😦

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  2. Ali says:

    Soil, not soul! I’m sure your soul is just fine!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ali says:

    Ooh. Oily soil is new to me. Though when our clay gets hard-baked in summer the water tends to run straight off. I came across a technique for keeping clematis irrigated that involves planting a section of pipe next to the plant so that you can deliver water straight to the roots. This struck me as highly efficient! Would be a pain for lots of shrubs, but ok for the chosen few, maybe.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Island Time says:

    Gorgeous roses Ali! I love them, but alas have only a few that I coax along; acid soil here at the edge of the Pacific coast forest of British Columbia, and deer who think roses were planted for them to browse upon. So, I have moderate success growing them to climb up above deer height. I have a big, single, yellow one that my daughter planted years ago, a deep wine-red flora-bunda type that I have propagated from cuttings, and a busy, tiny, double, flora-bunda-ed, soft-pink climber, very prickly, that a neighbour grew from a cutting. I love them, few as they are, climbing up either side of our rustic woodshed at the top of the garden where I can see them from the kitchen window.
    I am going to go and add a few shovel loads of clay to their beds, maybe that will help! Thanks for the tip, and the lovely blog-post!

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    1. Ali says:

      I am looking forward to exploring your very different growing conditions on your blog!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Island Time says:

        Thank you. I am curious about where you are situated; I should probably look a little bit harder at your blog, perhaps you write about it there….clay soil, and the way you write, makes me think England for sure, but what part I wonder?

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  5. Ali says:

    Yes, Kent, which is the most southeastern corner. Known as the garden of England! There are all types of soil in Kent; clay, chalk and sandy. We got clay, which I am used to, from growing up in Yorkshire. We get fairly mild winters – down to around -5 only, and we don’t get much rain compared with the west coast.

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  6. Omg that Boscobel…I will have to add it to my rose garden! Thanks for all these tips…I am also a massive Rose fan although this has happened quite recently. I love cottage type gardening in general but with my new rose garden, I’m looking forward to seeing how this progresses. Do you add manure in March? X

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    1. Ali says:

      I love that I have led you astray!
      I mulch either in the autumn or winter. That way I don’t bury my emerging shoots of tulips and other goodies, which I like to enjoy from the earliest possible moment. I reason that the mulch will still be there come spring to do it’s job, which is largely to keep moisture in and slowly leach nutrients. I blood-and-bone after the first flush, but am going to really try not to overdo this, as I read that if we over-fertilise, it ends up running away and causing problems in watercourses.
      Love that we can watch our rose gardens grow together!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s great tips. I planted in September and put in manure then and then mulch in top. I pruned in January and hope that they will bloom beautifully this summer! I still have space for a few new plants though so will be on the look out for new roses!

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      2. Ali says:

        Perfect. You’re all set. They will only flower lightly in their first year, and you don’t need to prune them very much next winter (deadheading is generally enough, unless they have sent out any really long, mad shoots), but they will flower wonderfully in their second summer. X

        Liked by 1 person

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