For many, the rose is considered to be quintessentially English. Most gardens have at least one, and there is a rose for almost any situation because they come in such an array of colours and scents. It’s easy to see why the rose has, in the past, been voted as the nation’s favourite flower.
My love affair with roses started many years ago as a small boy, when my Nan taught me how to prune, deadhead and remove black spot from her hybrid teas.
Now that I have my own garden, I grow modern shrub roses. These tend to be repeat flowering with good disease resistance, and have the wonderful strong scents of old-fashioned roses.
Beautiful - and useful
You will find my favourite rose, Rosa Lady Emma Hamilton ‘Ausbrother’ in the Scented Garden at Harlow Carr. There are many reasons why this rose stands out; from spring onwards the new foliage has a rich bronzy-green colour that lasts until it drops and complements perfectly the warm orangey blooms that have just enough of a pinkness to them to allow it to be combined with most other colours.
And as if that wasn’t enough reason to grow it, the scent is also beautifully strong and fruity. We no longer have any areas that would be considered to be traditional rose beds - instead we have married together roses with grasses and herbaceous perennials to create beautiful, long-lasting displays throughout the season.
Our Lady Emma Hamilton roses are planted with catmints (Nepeta) and peonies (Paeonia), a backdrop of tall spires of the elegant grass Calamagrostis and the smouldering foliage of a purple-leaved elder (Sambucus), which together create a stunning display that lasts for many months.
Russell Watkins, Horticulturist