If you'd like to grow roses round a doorway, pick the right variety and you'll get months of fragrant flowers, says plantsman Graham Rice
Roses growing around a doorway is many people's idea of the most idyllic garden feature. What could be nicer than a frame of bright blooms and delicious scent to greet you every time you come home?
Pottering round the Cotswolds last summer, I spotted one of those pretty thatched stone cottages that Americans think of as typically English and with the traditional roses round the front door. Well, sort of. In fact, most of the flowers were round the chimney and the stems by the door were mostly bare, even of leaves. Problem? Wrong variety.
Some climbing and rambling roses can produce shoots that go from ground level to head height in one season, so the right choice is crucial. Roses for round the door, or even roses in containers, need to be much less vigorous. And, of course, we’re looking for months of colour and fragrance too. These Award of Garden Merit winning* varieties are sure-fire winners, so why not plant your own idyll today?
The Hybrid Musk roses tend to mature wider than they are tall, so are not easy to fit into smaller gardens. As climbers, however, they are superb. The fully double flowers of ‘Buff Beauty’ are coral yellow in bud opening to rich apricot-yellow - almost primrose in some seasons - and carried first in small clusters on the older growth and then, later, in far more generous clusters on the new shoots. 2-3m.
The top round-the-door rose
Elegant apricot buds open to pink flowers which become coppery towards the centre of the blooms - all set against rich, dark green, glossy foliage. Unusually strongly-scented, growth tends to be upright so ‘Compassion’ fits in perfectly between the door and the window. Modern Climber. 2.5-3m.
The popular favourite
One of the most popular of all climbers, the large sweetly scented flowers of ‘Golden Showers’ are rather loose in shape but a superb clear yellow more than gold; they fade to cream before the petals drop, creating an attractive harmony of shades. Provides a continuous and generous display over a long period and is ideal when young children use the garden as it has very few thorns. Modern Climber. 2-3m.
An English climber
Many of David Austin’s English Roses make excellent, relatively restrained, climbers. The peachy-pink cupped flowers of A Shropshire Lad (‘Ausled’), fade prettily to pale pink as they age, have a strong, fruity fragrance and the rich, dark green foliage sets the flowers off beautifully. Cut the shoots that have flowered back to three buds in February. Not to be confused with ‘Shropshire Lass’. English Rose. 2.4m.
The rosarian’s rose
This most famous of English Roses, Graham Thomas (‘Ausmas’), is named for the great rosarian and recommended by its raiser as a climber rather than for growing as a shrub; its growth is more lax than that of other English Roses. The pure rich colouring of the cupped flowers, coupled with their powerful tea rose scent and their long season, is always captivating. 2-3m
Perhaps the best scent of all
Spectacularly fragrant, the large flowers of ‘Madame Isaac Pereire’ are a little muddled in shape but more than make for this in their extraordinary scent and their rich purple-pink colouring. Early blooms can be misshapen but as the bursts of flowers keep coming it soon settles into its glory. The variety on which I was first taught to prune climbing roses. Thank you, Kew. Bourbon. 2-3.5m.
We usually think of rambling roses as growing like the one I saw strangling that Cotswold chimney or growing into large mature tress. Open Arms (‘Chewpixcel’) grows in the same way but is much more manageable. The peachy, perfumed semi-double flowers with their musky scent have golden centres and fade to pale rose pink as they mature. Good in a large pot. Miniature Rambler. 1.8-2.4m.
Famous for hips as well as flowers
The creamy pink, semi-double flowers of ‘Penelope’ open from slightly orange tinted buds and fade to white in summer heat. Very prolific, flowering on old and new growth, ‘Penelope’ is very generous with its musky fragrance. In winter, look forward to unusual coral pink hips. “One of the very best roses for creating a white effect without being white,” wrote Graham Thomas. Hybrid Musk. 2-2.4m.
Repeat flowering rambler
An unusual rambler, ‘Phyllis Bide’ is neat in growth, repeat flowers reliably over an unusually long period well into autumn, has very few thorns, and comes with small, unobtrusive foliage. The small, semi-double, apricot and pink and gold flowers mature to pale rose pink with paler centres and, although not powerfully fragrant, there is an attractive sweet scent. Ideal by doors and paths. Rambler. 2-3m.
Plant Of The Year Finalist
A finalist in the 2015 Chelsea Plant Of The Year competition, Susie (‘Harwhistle’) flowered happily in a large container and was much admired throughout the Show. This dependably short and neat climber has reddish buds that open slightly pinkish and mature to golden yellow with pink overtones. One of the most fragrant of all patio climbers, its dark glossy foliage is unusually disease resistant and it blooms from June to November. Patio Climber. 2m.
*All cultivars listed in this article have the AGM, apart from Susie ('Harwhistle') which is too new to have been trialled for the award.