RHS London Shows


Favourite roses

Rachel de Thame, celebrity co-curator of this year's RHS London Rose Show, introduces her favourite blooms

I inherited my love of roses from my father, who grew many of his favourites, such as R. Iceberg ‘Korbin’, in our suburban garden and was forever making wish-lists of countless more.  

Since this early introduction I've developed something of an obsession for roses – I can't imagine creating a garden without them. For me, versatility is a large part of their appeal. There really is something to suit all tastes and most situations, from tree-filling ramblers to miniature patio roses, standards to shrubs, hedging to ground cover.  Above all, the sheer beauty of the flowers and abundance of colours, often combined with exquisite fragrance, make for a heady mix that I find impossible to resist.

R. ‘Charles de Mills’

R. Charles de MillsExquisitely formed, petal-packed flowers open a deep rosy-purple and fade elegantly as they age. Combined with exceptionally attractive, healthy foliage and a delicious fragrance, this old Gallica rose is my ‘desert island’ must-have, despite flowering only once each summer. AGM. H. 1.5m (5ft)

R. Penny Lane (‘Hardwell’)

R. Penny LaneThis well-behaved climber is ideal for smaller urban gardens where space is limited. The medium-sized, palest shell-pink flowers work with most colour schemes and repeat well throughout the season, often right up to Christmas. AGM. H. 5.5m (18ft)

R. Margaret Merril (‘Harkuly’)

R. Margaret MerrillA popular floribunda rose, and one of my favourites as a cut flower, producing masses of highly scented, warm-white flowers, resembling swirls of whipped cream, from mid to late summer. H. 0.7m (2.5ft)


R. Olivia Rose Austin (‘Ausmixture’)

R. Olivia Rose AustinThis is a relatively new English shrub rose which produces a succession of scented, pretty-as-a-picture, soft-pink blooms and excellent disease resistance. I grow it in a mixed border, with dusky bronze fennel, grasses, and a selection of flowering hardy perennials for company. H.1m (3.5ft)


R. rugosa ‘Rubra

R. rugosa 'Rubra'A couple of these distinctive shrubs would work well in the average-sized garden, but if you have space it also makes a wonderful informal hedge, studded with fragrant, single magenta flowers in summer, followed by large bright scarlet hips in autumn. Tough and tolerant of many sites, rugosas thrive in a wide range of growing conditions.  H. 1.5m (5ft)



Useful links

RHS London Rose Show 
Award of Garden Merit
Rose cultivation

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