Rose Revolution

Rose Revolution

Rose Revolution

As twenty new roses are launched at this year’s Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, it’s no surprise to see roses top two of the latest polls as the gardeners’ favourite flower1, but when it comes to choosing and planting roses in the garden there is something of a revolution occurring in the borders.

“Most gardeners haven’t got space to dedicate to a traditional rose garden, and growing roses together in one area can be more of a challenge, as pests and diseases are harder to control in a monoculture, making the use of chemicals a necessity, which many gardeners don’t like,” said Matthew Wilson, Curator of RHS Garden Harlow Carr.

“At Harlow Carr, in a break from rose garden tradition, we’ve created the Rose Revolution borders - naturalistic borders of flowering perennials, roses, ornamental grasses, bulbs, and shrubs with foliage interest. The idea is that the plants complement and support each other and create an environment where beneficial predators thrive, and in which diseases are reduced.”

Matthew’s top tips for creating your own rose revolution…
§         Interplant roses with a mixture of herbaceous perennials such as asters and salvias, bulbs and grasses to reduce the risk of diseases, such as black spot.
§         Planting alliums amongst the roses can help to deter aphids.
§         Use natural predators to keep pests under control - these can be encouraged by installing habitat boxes and by leaving perennials untouched until early spring, to provide places for over-wintering. 
§         If aphids do become a real problem and there is no sign of natural predators, don’t spray, beneficial predators can bought from most garden centres and will soon mop up pests.
§         Blue tits are voracious predators of aphids.  Erect nest boxes in your garden to encourage this beautiful pest controller to breed in your garden.
§         Grow clematis through roses - the roses support the natural scrambling habit of clematis.
§         Extend colour through the season by using an early flowering clematis on a later flowering rose, or try a late flowering clematis for colour once the roses have faded.
§         Consider roses for their foliage effect as well as flower.  Rosa glauca is a supremely tough rose with lovely leaves that are dusky pink above and thundercloud grey beneath.
§         Ornamental grasses make the perfect foil for roses.  A favourite combination is Rosa ‘Complicata’ with Stipa gigantea.

There are many thousands of rose cultivars and hybrids, so choosing which ones to buy isn’t easy. To narrow down the choice the RHS recommends you look for Award of Garden Merit2 (AGM) roses. Currently 228 roses have been awarded an AGM, so there will be something for everyone’s taste and garden situation.

Matthew’s top ten AGM roses are:
    R. banksiae ‘Lutea’
R. ‘Buff Beauty’ R. glauca ­
R ‘Complicata’
R. ‘Geranium’
R. ‘Gertrude Jekyll’
R. ‘Jacqueline du Pre’
R. rugosa ‘Alba’
R. ‘William Lobb’
R. xanthina f. hugonis
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