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The secret to growing these beautiful blooms is selecting the right rose for the right place in your garden and preparing the soil well

There is a rose to suit every garden. From hybrid teas in elegant, formal beds to clusters of floribundas growing companionably in borders or climbing roses garlanding arches, pergolas and walls.

There are English shrub roses with the charm, richness and fragrance of roses of yesteryear, or groundcover roses spilling carpets of colour down banks, and pots of roses brightening entrances, patios, courtyards and sunny balconies.

Designing with roses

Floribundas provide colour throughout summer. Picture: Lukas Otto

The secret of successful rose growing is selecting the right rose for the right place. Check the space then choose a rose that will be the right height, width and colour.

Roses do best with six hours of sunshine a day, preferably morning sun, an open position away from competition of tree roots and good air circulation, but protected from strong wind.

You have only one chance to improve the soil before planting. There are rose composts and fertilisers especially formulated to suit their needs. If roses are to give of their best they will need a steady supply of nutrients and water throughout their growing season.


The traditional way of growing roses is in formal beds that can be part of a large garden, but is just as effective on a much smaller scale in an enclosed courtyard in a townhouse garden.

A formal garden design usually has a geometric shape, although curves work too, with symmetrical plantings and paths radiating from a central axis, with well-defined edges of low-clipped evergreens. Statuary, a fountain, an oversize pot, bench or sundial are popular as focal points, positioned at a central axis or at one end of the garden.

Roses grow well in containers, in well-prepared soil. Picture: Louise Jenner-Clarke

Roses in formal beds can be under-planted with aromatic herbs to discourage pests and hide bare stems. The beauty of hybrid tea roses, bred for their pointed buds and elegant blooms on long stems, is best appreciated where they have the solo role.


Well-grown roses should have foliage along the entire length of their stems, but a way of hiding bare stems is to grow roses informally in mixed borders. Floribunda and shrub roses are ideal with their flower clusters giving colour for many months.

Roses grown in mixed borders should have companions such as lavender, scented geranium, santolina and catmint that are well behaved with non-invasive roots, and fillers of achillea, delphinium, dianthus, diascia, iris, larkspur, lilium, linaria, penstemon and scabious that do not crowd or grow taller than the roses.

Climbing roses

Climbing roses produce long canes and take colour skywards. Picture: Lukas Otto

Climbing roses take colour skywards. They produce long canes that can be trained on wires or trellis to provide additional security on boundary walls, disguise fences and soften house walls. In small gardens, where every plant must justify its place, climbing roses provide high colour. Encourage more blooms by tying canes horizontally.

Garland pillars of a pergola with climbing roses and introduce height in borders with roses entwining steel obelisks or wooden tripods. Climbing roses on arches add height and divide the garden visually. Plant a rose on each side of an arch for complete cover.

Instead of a single arch, why not copy the series of arches designed by Impressionist painter Monet in his garden at Giverny?

He also designed umbrella-like frames to support standard weeping roses so that they could spread their parasols of colour over lower plantings.

Ramblers, such as Albertine, are vigorous growers, but only bloom once a year. Use them as barriers on boundary fences. Panarosa roses may be grown as free-standing shrubs, as a hedge or screen, or trained on poles and pillars.

Shrub roses

English (David Austin) roses are highly individual, and it is this diversity of flower form and growth habit that makes them suitable for large and small gardens, as compact or large shrubs, for borders, walls, pillars and over arches.

They combine the beauty and rich colours and fragrance of old roses with repeat-flowering modern hybrids. Their growth habit can vary considerably when exposed to different conditions.


Roses grow well in containers, in well-prepared soil. Picture: Louis Jenner-Clarke

Pots of roses are pretty at entrances, on patios, lining steps, and for repeating the colour of taller roses. The container must be able to comfortably hold the roots and be in proportion. Ludwig’s Roses says a good potting soil should contain 70% organic matter, such as compost, manure, milled pine bark and peanut shells; 20% standard soil; and 10% gravel or ash clinker. Container roses require more watering than those in the garden.

Providing the containers are not too heavy, container roses mean portable colour where this is needed. Choose polyantha, shrub roses and miniatures, but be aware that the term “miniature” describes the size of the flowers, not necessarily the growth habit.


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