When it comes to selecting roses, it pays to narrow back your choice by considering where the rose is to be planted, what colour you prefer and what purpose it has to fulfil. This way, the decision will be made easier!
For the Vase
Most roses look fabulous in a vase, but not all have good 'picking attributes'. Hybrid Teas are generally considered superior as they last well and have long stems topped with a single high-pointed bud, which opens to an elegant, formal bloom.
A 'sniff test' is the ultimate, but if you can't wait to plant your roses, look for those that state 'highly fragrant' on the label, or have won an award for fragrance including: Margaret Merrill, Blackberry Nip, Aotearoa and Hayley Westenra. Many old fashioned roses are also richly scented and David Austin's English Roses are all bred specifically for fragrance.
Mass planting a single variety produces maximum impact. Select those roses which produce clusters of flowers repeatedly over the entire season, including floribundas and ground cover or shrub roses. Ground covers are also low growing with a spreading habit, making them good for large banks and slightly more exposed sites.
If you prefer flowers without fuss, go for ground cover and shrub roses such as Starry Eyed and Cottage Maid. Pruning simply entails an overall trim with hedge shears. Most modern selections, such as the Flower Carpet Series, require less spraying as they are highly disease resistant.
Old fashioned roses are the perfect choice for a rambling cottage garden. Many are highly fragrant but some flower only once in the season. Thorough research will be required to make your final selection due to the large range of growth habits and flower types.
Climbing or Rambling?
Old fashioned ramblers are extremely vigorous and useful to cover large structures, such as a gazebo, or to scramble through trees. Pruning isn't essential but for size control prune the once flowering ramblers immediately flowering. Modern climbers such as Dublin Bay don't grow as large, and are repeat flowering. Their manageable size makes them ideal as vertical accents on posts and obelisks, or to espalier against a wall. They require pruning and training to attain the best flowering.
Roses specifically bred for container culture are the best bet for growing in pots. They are compact in habit and repeat flower quickly, but do require regular feeding and watering for the best results. Patio roses are available in flower over summer.
Rose Paddy Stephens
Rose Archduke Joseph