If you want a picture-perfect summer garden, then consider dedicating its sunniest area to hybrid tea roses, says Adrienne Wild
The rose is England’s favourite flower and can be found in almost every garden in the land. In recent times, shrub roses, and especially the English roses bred by David Austin, have been popularly planted in mixed borders in a looser cottage garden style.
But as retro styles have captured the imagination for a new generation of homemakers, maybe it’s time to take a fashionably nostalgic look at the garden and revamp the 1960s-style rose gardens that were once the envy of the world.
Fifty years ago, hybrid tea varieties, such as ‘Blue Moon’, ‘Tropicana’ and ‘Montezuma’, that were still around from the 1950s remained on trend. These roses generally produce large flowers, mainly singularly, on tall, sturdy stems or in small clusters, have a bushy habit and – more importantly – are repeat bloomers.
At that time, rose growing was rather dominated by men, who liked to demonstrate their dedication and skill by growing and showing off the blooms to perfection.
Today, thankfully, we have more liberated and laid-back attitudes as to who does what in the garden and most of us aim to make a beautiful setting for relaxation as opposed to having neatly-preened plants to beat our next-door neighbours’.
To create a classic-style rose garden, carve geometric-shaped beds (eg, squares, rectangles or circles) out of your lawn and divide them into compartments for groupings of roses of different-coloured blooms.
Allow at least a square metre for each two or three roses and align them in an east-west row so the sun gives each rose equal light throughout the day.
For a sumptuous new century look, a harmonious colour scheme is the key. Roses with yellow, orange, peach or salmon-coloured blooms always work well together but the modern favourite is a blend of blooms in purple, rose-pink, lilac, and pale yellow, or orange and deep yellow.
For impact on a small scale, using just one colour works, and one of the most stylish palettes is the white border, which has dramatic effect and will make even the smallest garden appear deceptively larger.
This chic, minimalist look is timeless and can be achieved with roses in other shades too, such as pink or yellow.
For a wow factor, though, the aim should be to keep your design simple, with just two or three varieties planted in groups of three or five. Bear in mind that foliage is just as important as flowers, as is fragrance, which will make the scheme even more intense and exciting.
The scent of roses can be anything from floral and fruity to spicy, peppery and even reminiscent of parsley.
In general, the roses with the best fragrance have dark, thick velvety petals and pink roses have the most floral scents.
Disease resistance and a neat, bushy habit is why hybrid teas are still useful for creating a modern-day rose garden, especially as they are perfect for snipping for the vase.
Some growers consider the coral-red blooms of ‘Fragrant Cloud’ to be the most scented variety and ‘Mister Lincoln’ the best rich red rose.
The primrose yellow ‘Peace’ is so well known that it really needs no further description.
Two must-have award winners that have great disease resistance are ‘Simply the Best’, with its fragrant blooms of a burnt orange colour and the high impact ‘Rock and Roll’, which looks hand-painted, with creamy pink fruity fragrant blooms splashed with deep red.
Newcomers for 2016 are ‘Sunny Sky’, that has large soft yellow flowers with a slight fruity fragrance, which has been voted the Rose of the Year, and ‘My Lovely Dad’, which is causing great interest.
Its intense blue-lilac blooms, with the petal edges tipped with violet, plus excellent disease resistance and the added bonus of a superb perfume, are turning heads.
Summer is a good time to buy potted roses, as you can check out their colour and fragrance and determine their mature size to make sure that they will fit your scheme. Consider climbers too, as these can be employed to add height and interest.
Air circulation and four to six hours of sunshine each day are important for growing healthy roses. But note that roses are particularly affected by draughts and water dripping on to their leaves from overhanging trees and shrubs, which can lead to fungal diseases such as black spot.
For the best blooms, before planting, the top 30cm of soil should be enriched with organic matter – and mixing Rootgrow (rootgrow.co.uk), which is a blend of beneficial mycorrhizal fungi, into the planting hole will help the roots establish.
With pot-grown plants it might be necessary to carefully tease apart and loosen any girdling or tangled roots. Water plants regularly and mulch bare soil to help conserve moisture. Feed them with a high-potash liquid rose or tomato fertilizer.
Remove faded flowers to encourage more.
Routinely check plants for sap-sucking greenfly – they not only spoil the appearance of the plants but they will bring in viruses that cannot be cured.
The simplest solution is to ‘wash’ the plants with soapy water to get rid of the pests and their sticky honeydew residue, which if left makes a good ‘bed’ for black spot disease to take hold.
Finally, even if you don’t have any soil to play with, don’t despair, you can still create a rose garden in a pot! Patio roses – tiny versions of their larger shrub cousins – are easy to care for.