Roses for a fragrant summer

Follow your nose to these strongly scented roses, as recommended by our Partner Gardens

What would a garden be without scent? We asked owners and Head Gardeners at five RHS Partner Gardens to recommend their favourite roses for outstanding perfume. 

Rosa 'Summer Song'Rosa Summer Song 'Austango' 
Borde Hill Garden, West Sussex 

Visit Jay Robin's Rose Garden - celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2016 - to find this striking English Rose, one of 450 David Austin roses planted in the garden. The blooms have an unusual burnt orange colour; breeder David Austin describes the strong scent as having hints of chrysanthemum leaves, ripe bananas and tea. 

'We plant it very close to a path so visitors can easily smell it,' says owner Eleni Clarke. To get the best from 'Summer Song', Head Gardener Andy Stevens recommends good feeding with composted manure, pruning in February, foliar feeding and watering well in dry weather. 

On 23 June 2016, Borde Hill will host a talk and tour with James Alexander-Sinclair on choosing, planting, and maintaining the best roses. Discounts apply for RHS members. 
More about Borde Hill's Rose talk and tour

Rosa 'William Lobb'. Image: David Austin RosesRosa 'William Lobb'
Coughton Court, Warwickshire

This Old Rose is a beautiful dark crimson which fades gently into dusky grey purple. The scent is rich and slightly spicy. 'It only flowers once but is well worth growing for the powerful fragrance that stops you in your tracks even among the other roses,' says Garden Manager. Christina Williams. 'I find the green mossy growth on the sepals also smells and adds an old-fashioned charm,' Christina says.

You can find 'William Lobb' in the Rose Labyrinth within the walled garden. 'As it is tall we grow it on a Helmingham Rose Support, pegging the long, flexible new growth to make a beautiful mound of flowers. We have no health problems with this rose which is an added bonus.'

Image: kind permission of David Austin Roses. 

Rosa 'Gertrude Jekyll'Rosa Gertrude Jekyll 'Ausbord'
Millgate House, North Yorkshire

Rosa 'Gertrude Jekyll' is one of many roses grown in this town garden. There are three plants - one in the lane and two in the upper garden.  

'It has a delicious scent - strong essence of clove and old rose - deep colour and the most perfect buds,' says co-owner Austin Lynch. 'It is very vigorous, repeating all summer until winter, and does well in both sun and partial shade for us,' Austin says. 

For the best scent and colour, Austin recommends pruning vigorously in winter and feeding well in spring with bone meal. 

Rosa 'Duchess of Cornwall'Rosa Duchess of Cornwall 'Tan97157'
Trewithen Gardens, Cornwall 

This highly scented hybrid tea rose can be found in the Ornamental Orchard. The unusual orange to salmon colour, with hints of pink, make this a lovely addition to the summer garden.

'This is a short plant so is best sited toward the front of a border or in a raised bed. It's compact and easy to manage,' says Head Gardener Gary Long. 

'We prune hard in autumn to allow the plant a rest during winter, then formative prune to an outward facing bud in early spring. Spent mushroom compost is invaluable as a mulch,' Gary says.

Rosa 'Alchymist'. Image: David Austin RosesRosa 'Alchymist'
Wyken Hall Gardens, Suffolk

This long-flowering modern climber is a recent planting in Wyken's rose garden, and one of Head Gardener Rob Kett's favourites.

'Interestingly, the large full double blooms can vary in colour depending on conditions. Starting out egg-yolk yellow, sometimes with hints of peach or pink, it fades to pale yellow over time,' says Rob. 

'It is a rose that is known to do well in some difficult situations. We have it planted in light shade on a pillar at the end of the pergola next to a bench, where its blooms and strong, fruity, old rose scent can be admired,' says Rob. 

At Wyken, 'Alchymist' is pruned in winter and given a feed of bone meal then compost mulch in early spring to encourage vigor and great displays of blooms. 

Image: kind permission of David Austin Roses. 

Each of these gardens is an RHS Partner Garden offering free entry to RHS members (main cardholder) at selected times. Click on each garden name to see full details. 


New RHS rose events

This summer, don't miss the new rose festivals at RHS Gardens Rosemoor in Devon and Hyde Hall in Essex. 

Read more about our new rose festivals

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