By Carolyn Dunster, Simply Roses
In the course of my work as a planting designer specialising in roses, my job is to advise clients on the best varieties to grow. All too often, I hear people complaining that they have no success with roses in their gardens and that there is no point planting them as they fail to thrive. This is never the case but is down to the fact that they have planted the wrong rose in the wrong place.
Right Rose, Right Place
There is also a common misconception that roses are high-maintenance plants and that you need to be an experienced gardener in order to care for them properly. Again, I like to demonstrate that this is a bit of a myth. Although roses can be fussy and will let you know if they are not happy, the right rose planted in the right place at the right time of year will be content to do its own beautiful thing with minimal interference. As a rule, this means that bare root plants should be planted in the autumn and pot-grown plants in the early spring. Furthermore, the key to selecting the correct rose, when there is so much choice available that it can be quite confusing for novice gardeners, is to take advice from specialist growers. As a priority consider the planting aspect – this is more important than the soil conditions and think carefully about what you would like the rose to do. Pore over the catalogues and read up on the subject so that you get to understand the different types of roses and their habits rather than just selecting a favourite colour on a whim. Work out what kind rose you need for any given position and look to see what your neighbours are growing in similar spots – if their roses are flourishing the chances are that yours will too.
North-facing walls seem to present the greatest challenge when it comes to rose growing but what better way to cover up a bare, dismal expanse of brick of concrete than by smothering it with clusters of fragrant blooms? Either a climber or a rambler will do the job beautifully. The difference between the two being that climbing roses are generally repeat flowering and have larger flowers and stouter growth than ramblers. Both will require some support such as a trellis in order for them to grow horizontally against a wall and this will encourage them to spread and cover the space. Rambling roses tend to flower only once in the season and have an abundance of smaller flowers growing in clusters or tresses.
Here are my top recommended fragrant varieties for north-facing walls:
Alberic Barbier: double creamy-white flowers with semi-evergreen foliage
Albertine: salmon pink clusters of flowers growing on reddish stems
Madame Alfred Carriere: warm double white flowers that can take on a soft pink blush
Climbing Iceberg: white flowers that will repeat all season
New Dawn: cupped double pearl-pink flowers
Danse de Feu: scarlet clusters of double flowers with abundant glossy foliage
Golden Showers: pointed double yellow flowers that open flat
Zephirine Drouhin: deep-pink cupped flowers
Following a career in publishing, Carolyn Dunster set up Simply Roses in 2000. She trained in floristry with the late Jane Packer and in garden design at the Inchbald School of Design in central London. Her design work and product range have featured in many magazines and newspapers. Over the years, the Simply Roses product range has been stocked in Liberty, Fortnum & Mason, Harvey Nichols and many independent lifestyle boutiques. Carolyn has also enjoyed creating bespoke, flower-inspired bath and body products as own-label ranges for individual clients including The Cross and La Forêt de Parfum.