Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

There is a lot more to roses than meets the eye

When people think of roses, a lot of things come to mind. The simple white and red varieties of the flower are undoubtedly the most famous.

There are many reasons for this popularity – for instance the scarlet oens have romantic connotations that make them a popular gift for couples. Indeed, Valentine's Day is often marked by the exchange of these particular flowers between lovers.

However, there is so much more to the plant than this.

In an article for the Daily Telegraph, Bunny Guinness – who is a chartered landscape architect, a regular panellist on the BBC Radio 4 show Gardeners' Question Time and author of the Family Gardens book – noted that there are many more modern versions of the rose.

She claimed that some of the English old rose hybrids are popular favorites, standing out for their robustness. They are able to tolerate mixed borders – a characteristic that makes them the ideal choice of flower for those who intend to plant quite a lot.

Ms Guinness also praised the Darcey Bussell as being a particularly fragrant and attractive bloom, describing it as chianti-red, which can grow to be one metre high and is very tough and bushy.

It is also known as ausdecorum and does best in fertile, humus-rich, moist, well-drained soil. Flowering between June and August, it is best placed in full sun at all times.

In terms of care, the Royal Horticultural Society advises that thick roots are cut to 25 cm prior to planting. The bulge at the base of the shoots – known as the bud union – should be around five cm below the soil.

Munstead Wood – or crimson roses – and Scarborough Fair are much shorter flowers than the Darcey Bussell, but are similarly tough.

The Skylark rose could be the perfect option for those who intend to grow some flowers in their greenhouse.

Ms Guinness explained this is because that they are ideal for tight spaces, but are also stunning, growing to over one metre high and characterized by repeating semi-double deep pink blooms.

Like the Skylarks, the Ausufo – or the Comte de Champagne – is grown by David Austin, a specialist rose breeder from across the pond in the UK.

Ms Guinness said this is a rich yellow repeater that grows slightly higher still – and it is worth noting that it can also pale to a soft yellow color.

When they are growing, the blossom will eventually open up to form a mop of very deep yellow stamens, which leads to a wide variety of colors being on show all at the same time.

It is also worth giving the different meaning of a yellow rose some consideration. Where the red kinds of the flower are associated with passion and romance, yellow is more commonly associated with friendship or devotion.

"I am increasingly using roses in pots – and if you can remove the base so their roots can seek out real earth they will reward you for it," Ms Guinness commented, adding: "I like training them up simple but attractive pyramids within the pot – then you have good form in the winter months as well."

This could be a good way forward for glasshouse growers.

"Sometimes newly planted roses can send up a couple of tall shoots and look quite unbalanced for the first year, before settling down in subsequent years and becoming more rounded," Ms Guinness advised.

"Expect them to give you a good ten years of life (some go on far longer), but if they start producing weak growth at a mature age, wheel them off," the expert continued.