Roses – Old and New

Roses – Old and New

The universal favourites

Shakespeare was, of course, absolutely correct when he declared that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. The only doubt is whether whatever other name it had would roll so melodiously off the tongue. As a cut bloom it is unsurpassed; there is, in fact, a vast industry specializing in roses purely for that purpose. It is also the most popular of all our garden inhabitants, and small wonder. The blooms offer so much pleasure for so little. There is no monotony about them; indeed, in many cases there are bonuses of distinctive leaf colouring and, at the end of the flowering season, a magnificent display of heps – the seed pods or fruits.

They will tolerate most conditions other than waterlogging, baulking only at extreme clay and extreme chalk. Indeed they will thrive in conditions no plant might be expected to endure. They will also offer bloom from June or July (perhaps earlier) to near Christmas, sometimes beyond if the weather is kind. All they ask in return is to be kept neat and tidy and well fed, with occasional checks, and for years to come they will go on supplying you with beautifully-coloured, delicate-looking, but extremely tough blooms that will bring delight and probably perfume to the garden and, if cut, will enhance the appearance of any room indoors.

roses - old and new Also in their favour is that they are not fastidious as to how they are grown. You can grow them singly — in pots, if you like, having no garden handy and only a balcony — as standards on a lawn, or in beds or borders grouped together. Some varieties make picturesque hedges, odorous and pretty impenetrable.

Then, too, they come in so many forms, in size and habit of growth. The bush types are the most widely used and the best suited to beds and borders. The standards, useful as single specimens or to ‘landscape’ a bed by giving extra height, are versions of the bush types: the same flowers but grown on different stock, producing a single and usually taller main stem. There are climbers, ramblers, ground cover — low-growing but spreading to cover a diameter of 5m (16ft) or more — and miniatures, tiny versions growing barely 15cm (6in) high, making excellent border plants and possibly (because they require so little space) having a great future in these days of small gardens and small growing areas.

Contrasting with these are the old-fashioned, simply-styled, shrub roses, though some are of modern raising. Some of them, if not kept well trimmed, can grow rather large and it is as well to respect their individuality by being generous with space and allotting them more than the normal 1m (3ft) maximum between plants.

But this is only the start: you still have a choice of type of bloom. Hybrid teas and floribundas easily lead the poll because between them they provide colour for so many months and because there are many more varieties. But many a discerning gardener has one or two of the old-fashioned shrub roses (with ancestry centuries old) which, although they generally have a restricted flowering period, offer a grace and form — and often subtle perfume — that the modern versions cannot touch.

You may murmur a critical comment that roses are thorny, and so offer a deterrent to admirers who approach too close. But you can get roses without thorns, though admittedly there are not very many, and this could be a profitable area for an adventurous breeder to explore. Nevertheless, ‘Zéphirine Drouhin’, best known of the thornless ones, has been popular for well over a hundred years. It is a deep pink scented climber that lasts and lasts and whose only fault may be a susceptibility to mildew, a fault by no means confined to this variety. Rosa rubrifola, a species growing up to 2.5m (7-1/2ft) or more, is almost thornless.

28. April 2011 by admin
Categories: Plants, Roses | Tags: , | Comments Off on Roses – Old and New

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