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A couple of questions for you. Do you really want a bed in such a prominent position to be bare earth (or mulch) for about half the year? How important is scent, as dwarf rose plants are difficult to smell? Roses as a rule are not so scented that they fiill the air in an open situation. Flower scents are different things to different noses. I and my wife have been round the garden centre at RHS Wisley twice over the last 2 years checking the scent of their plants for our garden and very few modern roses have a strong scent, even when the labelling recommends them for scent, with 1 great exception, "Gertrude Jekyll". This has a super strong scent, is deep pink, a repeat flowerer, but is quite a vigorous grower. Even in full sun you may have a problem keeping in below 4' or so, and 6' is more likely in my experience. Hard pruning each year will help keep it shorter, and don't feed too much. Personally I would grow it amongst herbaceous plants, maybe clove scented pinks round the edges for more scent, and taller herbaceous plants or sping, summer or autumn bulbs amongst the roses. Hope this helps a bit.
English roses flower for a very long period and smell nice too, but like trillium2cv says it may be an idea to mix them up with other plants to lengthen the period of interest and deter pests. Some things like alchemilla mollis (ladies mantle) look pretty with roses and will seed themselves around so are very easy to grow.
Many thanks for these heplful suggestions and information cloud 8 and trillium2cv. I like the idea of the alchemilla mollis, spring bulbs and clove scented pinks to give a bit more interest. I wonder if lavender would work as well?
Try the following roses:
The Alnwick - soft pink, strongly scented, 120cm high
Gentle Hermione - pure pink, scented, 120cm high
Strawberry Hill - rose pink, strongly scented, 120cm high
Scepter'd Isle - soft pink, strongly scented, 120cm high.
I think lavender looks wonderful with roses. The soil requirements are slightly different - you'd want to mulch your roses, keeping them well-fed and moist, but your lavender should be grown in free-draining poorer soil and definitely not waterlogged. However it's possible to have them both in the same bed but treated rather differently.
Enjoy it and let us know how you get on,
Many thanks Emma. I'll give the lavender a go and I hope to have sucesss now I know what I should be doing!! Someone local has also mentioned The Alnwick and Scepter'd Isle. Rosie
I'd forgo the lavender, although it is associated so much in our 'romantic' minds with roses. I'd plant Nepeta ( catmint ) 'Six Hills Giant' which is tough, tolerant, bomb-proof, long lived and has that heavenly blue-mauve spike that lavender gives - plus the bees love it just as much, if not more.
A shorter rose which I have had enormous success with is 'Easy Does It' ( 'Harpageant' - Harkness roses ) which is the most fabulous shade of - well - Zinfandel wine, actually! A reddish, coppery, rusty...impossible to describe....very unusual...but it flowers all through the season, is disease resistant, and lovely as a cut flower for the house. Gorgeous little rose.
And you could try 'L'Aimant' which is a truer pink Floribunda, and taller, with a lovely scent. No, they're not the 'New English' roses, but they're a lot tougher. I developed a bed of the 'New English' roses many years ago, but they practically all failed as I did not fully appreciate that they weren't ideal for the cooler climate and less sunshine of Scotland, so I've reverted to the out-of-fashion hybrid teas and florries, which are not quite as fragrant, but boy! can they pack a punch!
I know that 'rose beds' seem to have currently gone out of favour, but you stick with it! Fashion fades, style remains! Do what you love and never mind the fashionistas!
Many thanks Brenda. More food (or wine!!) for thought - I may just have to create more than one new rose bed with all these suggestions. The Nepeta is a good idea. I have a dwarf variety that does do really well in another part of the garden. We are warmer and sunnier down here in Gloucestershire