Rambling rose Francoise Juranville at Sizergh Castle, Kendal, Cumbria
Angela Slater
Daughter of a farmer and market gardener so have always had a connection with the outdoors, whether it was keeping animals or producing fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I gained an HND and BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management, as a result I am an ardent environmentalist and have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening. In my time at Hayes I worked for several years in the Outdoor Plant and Houseplant areas

Rose Festival Week 23rd June – 1st July 2018

Find space in your garden for the nation's favourite flower

Rambling rose 'Francoise Juranville' at Sizergh Castle, Kendal, Cumbria

This week we promote the glories of the nation’s favourite flower, the delicious rose. We stock plants from the renowned Chelsea Flower Show gold medal winners David Austin and Peter Beales. Also in store we have the David Austin expert Andrew Rollings, who will be on hand on Tuesday 26th to answer any rose related queries you may have, or just for a chat.

There is a rose for every area of the garden from that dry shady wall to a tiny backyard which only has the space for a couple of containers. The only conditions they really don’t like is waterlogged soil. Some of the old English shrub roses can be really versatile as not only can they be grown as a shrub but also as a small climber, reaching a height of 180 – 210cm (6 – 7’), so ideal for growing against a boundary fence. If you are restricted for space steer clear of the rambling roses as they are incredibly vigorous and can easily reach a height of 6m (20’). But if you have a dead tree then this is when ramblers really come into their own, just plant at the base with a good amount of well-rotted farm-yard manure and they will take care of themselves and reward you with absolutely masses of tiny flowers. Unfortunately ramblers only flower once whereas climbers will repeat flower, provided they are regularly dead-headed and fed.

Roses will grow quite happily in containers provided you choose an appropriately sized pot which will accommodate your chosen rose. If growing a climber in a container the pot must be at least 45cm (18”) deep and the same width. Use a good quality Rose compost or John Innes No 3 and a forkful of well-rotted farm-yard manure in the bottom to help conserve the moisture. The disadvantage of growing in containers is the fact that they need to be watered regularly as obviously the roots cannot spread out in search of moisture; on a hot day they may need watering twice a day. Installing an automatic watering system not only makes sure they don’t dry out but is also much less work for you and you can go away on holiday safe in the knowledge that you are not going to come home to dead plants. The new Flopro Eco Smart system works off a solar panel and will water up to 10 large containers.

Rambling rose Albertine

Rambler Albertine (Image: Peter Beales)

Tips for growing roses


  • Choose a sunny site with at least 4 hours sunshine a day
  • Prepare the hole well; make it large enough to accommodate the roots when they are spread out.
  • Add a bucketful of well-rotted farmyard manure and a handful of blood, fish and bone or a balanced fertiliser, such as Growmore.
  • If you are planting roses where they have grown previously add some Rootgrow, a mycorrhizal fungi application which forms a symbiotic relationship with the rose and prevents the ‘rose sick’ syndrome, where the new rose just does not thrive when planted where roses have been growing. If you use Rootgrow don’t use the fertiliser as phosphorus in the fertiliser prevents the fungus from working.
  • Bare root roses come without any compost, but with the roots wrapped to keep them damp. They are usually cheaper than containerised roses. Plant them between November and March if soil conditions are favourable; if not keep the roots damp until they can be planted.
  • Containerised roses can be planted at any time of the year.
  • Plant with the graft point (the thick knobbly bit) just below soil level.
  • Plant containerised roses to the same depth as they are in the pot.

Planting in containers

  • Choose a container at least 4 x’s the size of the pot you buy it in.
  • Use a free-draining loam based, not peat, compost such as John Innes No 3 or a dedicated rose compost.
  • Feed as you would if grown in the ground.
  • Be vigilant with watering as they dry out really quickly in warm weather; it may even need watering twice a day if it is hot.
  • Don’t plant ramblers in pots as they are too vigorous.


  • Keep them well watered, they don’t thrive in dry soil.
  • Feed well with a rose fertiliser after pruning in March then every 2 months until the end of July.
  • Mulch after feeding with a 5cm (2”) layer of well-rotted organic matter.


  • Water thoroughly, not little and often.
  • Water at the base; watering the leaves helps spread black spot.


  • Prune shrub roses back by half to a third in early spring; late February to March.
  • Take out any diseased stems.
  • Keep the centre fairly open to enable good airflow; this helps fight against disease.
  • When planting bare root roses prune to about 15cm (6”) high; this concentrates energy into forming a good root system.

Rose Iceberg

Iceberg (Image: Peter Beales)


  • Black spot is more prevalent in damp weather and is spread from the top of the plant to the lower leaves by water droplets, so always water at the base and not over the plant.
  • Spray roses prone to this problem with a fungicide at the beginning of the season to try and prevent black spot.
  • Plant varieties which are more black spot resistant.
  • Watch our video (click here) and read the blog showing you what to do if you do get black spot.
  • Aphids usually cluster at the growing tips and around the buds so just rub off between finger and thumb.
  • Feed the birds to encourage them into your garden and they will eat the aphids.
  • Spray with a systemic insecticide to deter aphids.
  • Powdery mildew occurs when the rose is dry and stressed so make sure it has plenty of organic matter, is fed and watered well. Maintain a good airflow around the plant by cutting out weak and diseased stems.
  • Blindness (not producing buds) can be the result of planting in the shade, frost damage or not enough food and water. Cut out the blind shoots, feed, water and mulch and you should get flowers late in summer. Some varieties such as ‘Peace’, a hybrid tea, and ‘New Dawn’, a climber, are prone to blindness.
  • Pull off suckers (don’t cut them) where they are attached to the main stem at the bottom. You can recognise them by the fact that they are soft and sappy, almost thorn-less, quick growing, the stems are green rather than having that reddish tinge and the leaves are light green. 

Peter Beales Roses stand at Chelsea Flower Show

Peter Beales stand at Chelsea Flower Show (Image: Peter Beales)


  • Choose the appropriate rose for your particular situation.
  • Climbers are smaller than ramblers, have larger flowers and can often repeat flower later on in the season if well fed and dead-headed. They are suitable for planting against a wall, over an arch or pergola or up an obelisk.
  • Ramblers can eventually cover a large support, have large clusters of small dainty flowers and only flower once. They are suitable for growing up trees or along a long expanse of fence.
  • A lot of the David Austin shrub roses will make small climbers, up to 180cm (6’).
  • Climbers and ramblers produce more flowers if the branches are horizontal, so they are best grown on wires spaced about 60cm (2’) apart. Attach strong vertical stems to higher wires and cut out the weak in early autumn. If you just let them go you will end up with a tall plant with a lot of bare stems at the base and a few flowers way up at the top.

Rose The Generous Gardener

The Generous Gardener (Image: David Austin)

Best roses for a north facing wall

Although roses love the sun there are a few varieties which will tolerate a north facing aspect and produce some flowers, just not as many as if they were in a sunny position.

  • Madame Alfred Carriere; climber with white flowers tinged with cream/pink and a good strong fragrance.
  • The Generous Gardener; climber with pink flowers and a strong fragrance.
  • The Pilgrim; climber with yellow flowers and a moderate fragrance.
  • Crown Princess Margareta; climber with peachy orange flowers and a moderate fragrance.
  • Graham Thomas; climber with gold flowers but very little fragrance.
  • Climbing Iceberg; climber with pure white flowers but not much fragrance.
  • Danse de Feu; climber with small scarlet clusters of flowers but not much fragrance.
  • Paul’s Himalayan Musk; rambler with blush pink flowers and a strong fragrance.

Rose Molineux

Molineux (Image: David Austin)

Best David Austin roses for a small garden

  • Anne Boleyn; mid pink petals going to gold/peach in the centre but not the strongest fragrance.
  • Charlotte; soft yellow upward facing blooms with a strong fragrance.
  • Darcey Bussell; deep crimson flowers, moderate fragrance and the RHS Award Garden Merit
  • Molineux; deep yellow blooms with a good musky tea rose fragrance and the RHS Award Garden Merit
  • Sir Walter Scott; small pink flowers with a strong old rose scent.
  • Young Lycidas; deep pink/ magenta blooms and a strong fragrance.  

Rose Desdemona

Desdemona (Image: David Austin)

Best David Austin roses for growing in containers

  • Darcey Bussell; bright crimson with a fruity fragrance.
  • Desdemona; pale pinky-peach opening to white.
  • Lady Emma Hamilton; orange with touches of pink and yellow.
  • Roald Dahl; peach with a tea fragrance.
  • Sir Walter Scott; mid-pink with a strong Old Rose fragrance.  

Rose Gertrude Jeykell

Gertrude Jeykell (Image: David Austin)

Best David Austin roses for covering a fence

  • Crown Princess Margareta; apricot/orange blooms and a strong fruity fragrance, will tolerate some shade.
  • Gertrude Jekyll; mid-pink blooms with a very strong Old Rose fragrance. Twice voted nations favourite rose by Gardener’s World viewers. Also holds the RHS Award Garden Merit.
  • Mortimer Sackler; soft pink blooms with a strong Old Rose fragrance and the RHS Award Garden Merit.
  • St Swithun; soft pink blooms with a strong myrrh fragrance.
  • Teasing Georgia; rich yellow blooms with a strong tea fragrance and the RHS Award Garden Merit.
  • Tess of the D’Urbervilles; bright crimson blooms with a good Old Rose Scent.