Growing roses in Australia is easy, and they will grow in every state and territory as long as they have three things: protection from the wind, at least four hours of sun per day, and moist soil rich in organic matter (compost is best).
Roses are among the most versatile of plants, allowing them to compliment any garden design and style. They are available in almost every shape, colour and size imaginable and can be used in all aspects of the garden.
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The best place to plant roses
Roses are tough, but they do need sunshine and the more the better. In open, sunny gardens roses will grow happy, healthy and relatively disease-free.
In full shade they will struggle to grow and never reach their full potential. They may also become susceptible to fungus.
In part shade they can perform adequately, albeit with reduced flowering.
In exposed, windy conditions roses need protection; use a windbreak such as a solid fence or hedge.
So which roses suit which spots?
For the patio
‘Pierre de Ronsard’: a fantastic rose with an old-fashioned rose-style flower in soft pink and ivory. It flowers well for nine months of the year and despite its old-fashioned looks and apple perfume, it’s a modern rose. It is similar to ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’, a genuine old-fashioned rose, but is longer flowering and less prone to diseases. It is ideal for growing on a pergola as it is not huge and is almost thornless.
For vertical space
‘Red Pierre de Ronsard’: this repeat flowerer is from the breeders of Pierre de Ronsard, the Meillands. It climbs up to three metres and produces lots of deep red, double-cupped flowers.
With regular fertilising, you can have blooms for eight to nine months of the year.
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‘Crepuscule’: is a shrubby climber with small, copper-gold flowers that change with age. When they’re young the flowers are light orange, but they fade to a deep cream with time. The word crepuscule means twilight, which describes the colour very well.
The perfume is a good rose perfume with spicy overtones. The wonderful thing about this rose, apart from the fact it’s got almost no thorns, is that it flowers for most of the year – a good 10 months.
For beds and borders
‘Mary Rose’: a clear pink multi-petalled rose, one of the most widely grown English Roses. It forms a good bushy shrub up to one metre high and blooms throughout the summer. The delicious fragrance is of Old Rose character, with a hint of honey and almond blossom.
‘Bonica’: this truly wonderful rose is sold both as a shrub and a grafted standard. The colour is fabulous: the pink buds open to a slightly lighter than mid-pink and fade to icing pink. The individual flowers aren’t huge (six centimetres across) but that is more than made up for by their sheer number and length of flowering. You’ll be cutting armfuls for vases in no time.
‘The Fairy’: this is a miniature rose, and many miniature roses are very tricky to grow, but the result is worth it.
It’s long flowering, hardy, has shiny green foliage and carries clusters of petite pink flowers from spring to autumn. Its low, spreading growth (generally less than one metre or three foot tall) makes it a great border plant or a tall ground cover.
Rosa rugosa ‘Rubra’: ever thought about creating a hedge out of roses? It’s easy if you choose Rosa rugosa ‘Rubra’, which can create a dense, fast-growing deciduous hedge growing to around 1.5m x 1.5m and bears magenta-pink flowers in summer and big red hips in autumn. It needs full sun and fertile, humus-rich, moist, well-drained soil and you’ll need multiple plants depending on how long you want the hedge to be.
‘Mutabalis’: a vigorous shrub rose that will grow to two metres and is almost evergreen. Exquisite winged-butterfly flowers open yellow, turn pink then crimson, giving a marvellous multi-coloured flowering. It makes a great drought-tolerant hedge.
For any sunny spot
‘Iceberg’: if you were to give an award for the greatest rose of all time there’s no doubt ‘Iceberg’ would be the winner. Due to its overwhelming popularity (it’s in just about every garden), it is sometimes accused of being overused. But it’s widely used because it’s one of the all-time great garden plants. The flowers are a lovely ivory white, it’s got a good apple blossom perfume and it’s as tough as old boots. It does best in full sun but will take a little bit of shade. It is available as a bush or grafted into a ball on a stick. There is also a climbing form, ‘Climbing Iceberg’ and more recently ‘Pink Iceberg’. Apart from having lovely, dense arching foliage it also flowers for about 10 months of the year. If you only have room for one rose, this is the one for you.
Do you grow roses? Which is your favourite?
– With PA
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