Is a summer garden truly a summer garden without roses? Many would say it’s not. Certainly, few plants can beat the rose for its intensity and richness of scent plus the sensuous beauty of its blooms. Add the fact that the latter are edible – you can use those silky-soft, perfumed petals to make a delicious rose-flavoured syrup to trickle over summer puddings, sprinkle in a salad or use in a decorative ice punch bowl – and you could argue that roses deserve a spot in every garden.
But hang on a moment, you may say. Roses aren’t exactly suitable for every garden, are they? These greedy, sun-loving, demanding plants aren’t going to thrive in shade? Or in confined or exposed spaces?
Not true, or at least, not entirely true. Yes, the majority of rose species/ varieties like space, a rich, fertile soil and full sun. But there are some within this vast and complicated genus of plants that will cope well with a shady wall (just so long as it’s not in deep shade) and others so compact in their growth habits that you can tuck them into a large tub or container. There are also roses that look right at home in a semi-wild-setting and others so tough they will happily cope with salty, coastal gales and less-than-perfect soil. Here’s some inspiration . . .
For a shady wall: Rosa 'Souvenir du Docteur Jamain', a repeat-flowering climbing rose suitable for a north wall with large, dark-scarlet, scented flowers (3m x 2m); Rosa 'Penelope', a repeat-flowering, almost thornless shrub rose that can be grown as a small climber with semi-double, very pale pink, fragrant flowers, will tolerate partial shade (1.5m x 1.2m); Rose 'Étoile de Hollande', a very vigorous, repeat-flowering climbing rose with strongly scented, deep-crimson blooms, will tolerate light shade (3m x 4m); Rosa 'Teasing Georgia', a David Austin, repeat-flowering climbing rose with large, strongly scented, deep yellow flowers, will tolerate partial shade (3.5m x 2-3m); Rosa 'Danse de Feu', a repeat-flowering climber with brilliant-red, double blooms, great for a north wall (3.5m x 3m); Rosa 'Buff Beauty', another repeat-flowering classic variety, this disease-resistant shrub rose has large apricot-coloured flowers and will tolerate light shade (1.5 x 1.5m); Rosa 'Penny Lane', a great repeat-flowering climber with soft-apricot, fragrant flowers, suitable for larger walls in partial shade (3-5m x 3m).
For a steep, sloping bank: Rosa 'Grouse', a repeat-flowering, sweetly scented, floriferous ground-cover rose with dense clusters of single, pale pink flowers (75cm x 3m); the tough, disease-resistant, floriferous 'Flower Carpet' series of repeat-flowering ground-cover roses, available in shades of apricot, pink, scarlet, yellow and white (75cm x 1.5m); Rosa 'Scented Carpet', a very floriferous, fragrant repeat-flowering ground-cover rose with single, magenta-pink and white flowers (75cm x 2-3m).
For small gardens: Rosa 'Buff Beauty' (see above); Rosa 'De Rescht', a repeat-flowering, very fragrant shrub rose with double, purple-red flowers (90cm x 60cm); Rosa 'Graham 'Thomas', one of the enduring greats of the rose world, this repeat-flowering shrub rose has golden-yellow, lightly scented, double flowers (1.3m x 1.3m); Rosa 'Jacqueline du Pré', a great repeat-flowering shrub rose with single, blush-coloured, lightly perfumed flowers (1.2m x 1.2m); Rosa 'Eglantyne', another repeat-flowering shrub rose from the David Austin stable with large, pale-pink, strongly scented blooms (1.2m x 1.2m); Rosa 'Dusky Maiden', a repeat-flowering floribunda with clusters of sooty-red, lightly-scented single flowers (75cm x 75cm); Rosa 'Tickled Pink, repeat-flowering, compact shrub rose with clusters of warm-pink, lightly-scented, rain-resistant flowers (1.2m x 45cm).
For exposed coastal gardens: Rugosa- type roses such as Rosa rugosa 'Alba', a vigorous, repeat-flowering variety with single, scented white flowers (1.8m x 1.8m); the repeat-flowering Rosa 'Blanche Double de Coubert' with double, white-scented blooms; Rosa 'Roseraie de l'Hay', another vigorous and reliable variety with large, double, perfumed, magenta-pink blooms (2m x 2m); Rosa spinosissima (also known as Rosa pimpinellifolia or the burnet rose), a native species with single creamy flowers followed by ornamental hips (1m x 1m).
As a hedge: The rugosa-type roses (see above), also Rosa 'Penelope' (see above); Rosa 'Felicia', a repeat-flowering shrub rose with light-pink, perfumed blooms (1.5m x 1.5m); Rosa 'Ballerina', a repeat-flowering, vigorous, floriferous shrub rose with dense clusters of soft-pink flowers (1.3m x 1.3m); Rosa 'Wild Edric', a repeat-flowering, thorny David Austin rose with deep-pink, semi-double, strongly perfumed flowers (1.3m x 1.3m); Rosa 'Little White Pet', great for a low-growing hedge, this repeat-flowering variety produces clusters of scented, white flowers throughout the summer (75cm x 75cm).
For a semi-wild or informal area: Although they're typically very large plants and once-flowering rather than repeat-flowering, any of the species-type, single-flowered (rather than double), pollinator-friendly roses look right in this kind of setting including Rosa glauca , which has bright-pink single flowers and glaucous foliage (3m x 3m); Rosa moyesii, deep-pink single flowers (4m x 4m); Rosa spinosissima (see above); Rosa rugosa (see above); Rosa roxburghii, single pale-pink flowers followed by decorative hips (5m x 5m); also Rosa 'Golden Wings', a repeat-flowering shrub rose with large, single yellow flowers (1.5m x 1.5m).
In a pot or tub: Use ultra-compact patio or miniature-type roses such as Rosa 'Happy Birthday', a repeat-flowering patio rose with double, apricot-coloured flowers (30cm x 30cm); The 'Flower Carpet' series (see above); Rosa 'Little White Pet' (see above); Rosa 'Ruby Anniversary', a repeat-flowering patio rose with scarlet-red, double, lightly scented blooms (80cm x 60cm); 'Rosa 'Thank You', a very floriferous, repeat-flowering variety with bright pink, lightly scented, double blooms.
Recommended stockists? All good Irish garden centres and in particular, nurseryman and rose-lover Robert Miller's Altamont Plants, which is situated in the walled garden of the OPW-managed Altamont Gardens in Ballon, Co Carlow and is well-known for its extensive and interesting range of roses, many of which can also be seen growing in the garden centre's mixed borders. Altamont Plants is also hosting a 'Rose Clinic' today (Saturday June 29th), with a talk, 'Roses in all their Glory' by rose expert and nurseryman John McNamara of McNamara's Rose Nursery and again on July 6th with a talk by Robert Miller. Call 087-982 2135 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, See Dates for your diary (below) for other rose-related events taking place around the country.
This week in the garden
Tomato plants are in vigorous growth and need careful, regular attention to perform well. So keep them regularly watered and once the trusses of tiny tomatoes start to appear, give plants an organic a liquid feed every 10-14 days. If the variety is what’s known as a vine/indeterminate type, then it also needs good support and very regular side-shooting to prevent it from growing into a giant tangle of stems – but the more compact bush/ determinate types don’t need to be sideshooted.
Potato blight is an increasing risk as this time of year, especially during any damp, warm, humid spells of weather, so listen out for Met Éireann blight warnings and watch out for signs of this damaging fungal disease on plants (brown patches surrounded by a pale yellow-green “halo”, visible on wilting foliage and stems). If you do find obvious signs of blight on your plants, then quickly cut the stems back to ground level and bag/ dispose of them to reduce the chance of it affecting the tubers, which can be left in the ground for several weeks before being lifted.
Visit this: Lovingly restored by its owner Dr Eamonn O'Donoghue over the last number of decades, the beautiful, six-centuries-old Claregalway Castle plays host to the annual Galway Garden Festival next weekend (Saturday, July 6th and Sunday, July 7th, 11am-6pm). Described as a celebration of "gardening, landscape, history, poetry, music and much more besides", it will include plant stalls by most of the country's very best specialist nurseries, artisan and craft producers, garden talks by legendary garden writer Joy Larkcom, herbal historian Dr Colman O'Clabai, ecologist Dr Cillian Roden, garden writer and flower farmer Fionnuala Fallon and poet Mary O'Malley, a botanical art exhibition plus live music and lots of child-friendly entertainment from medieval knights in armour to magicians and puppeteers. Admission €10 per adult, children free, see galwaygardenfestival.com
Grow this: Modern varieties of yarrow (Achillea millefolium) come in a wonderful mix of colours and are extremely long-flowering (June-September), making this floriferous, decorative, pollinator-friendly, sun-loving, easy-to-grow perennial a great choice for the summer garden, while the flowers also dry very well. Available from good garden centres, seed of beautiful contemporary colour mixes such as 'Summer Pastels' and 'Summer Berries' is also widely available to order online (seedaholic.com, sarahraven.com) and is a great way to raise generous quantities of plants to sprinkle through a border.
Dates for your diary
Today (Saturday June 29th), 'Rose Day', Altamont Walled Garden, Altamont, Ballon, Co Carlow, with, 'Roses in all their Glory', a talk by rose expert and nurseryman John McNamara.
Saturday June 29th (from 2pm), Woodville Walled Garden, Kilchreest, Loughrea, Co Galway, 'Roses, Roses All the Way', a talk by rose expert and breeder David Kenny, followed by a tour of the garden and light refreshments. Admission €12, pre-booking essential, email email@example.com or contact Marie at 087-271 1970.
Saturday June 29th (3pm-5pm), St Patrick's School, Greystones, Co Wicklow, Delgany & District Horticultural Society Annual Rose & Sweet Pea Show, see delganydhs.com.
Sunday June 30th (10am-5pm), open day at Fruitlawn Gardens, Abbeyleix, Co Laois, see arthurshackleton.com.
July 1st-July 30th (10am-5pm, every Friday and Saturday), Knockrose House, The Scalp, Kilternan, Dublin 18, 'Plant, Plaster, Pigment', an exhibition of botanical plaster art by artist Erica Devine, see knockrose.com.
Saturday July 6th and Sunday July 7th, Galway Garden Festival, galwaygardenfestival.com.