Simply Stunning Shrub Roses

Simply Stunning Shrub Roses

Shrub roses have a place in any garden scheme and can be grown in pots

Shrub roses are an essential part of the quintessential English garden. Although the old idea of growing them in a rose bed has now declined, their popularity has soared mainly due to their adaptability and the fact that many of them are heavily scented, and as an added bonus will repeat flower. Their versatility means that there are varieties suitable for any height from ground cover to small climbers, up to 240cm (8’). The majority of them are large shrubs, about 150 – 180cm (5 -6’), but if left unpruned become small climbers. They have a graceful arching habit. Many of them are repeat flowerers and well worth a spot in anyone’s garden. They are the result of crossing modern bush roses with the old species.

Some of the larger varieties are suitable for fan training against a wall or fence. Place horizontal wires about 45cm (18”) apart and tie in the stems as close to horizontal as possible. Horizontal stems produce more flowers than vertical. Plant the rose about 30cm (12”) away from the base of the wall or fence, as it is too dry right up against the wall. Remove any thin stems from the base of the plant to concentrate its energy into the stronger stems. Sprinkle some Root Grow into the planting hole and directly over the roots before planting as this mycorrhizal fungi will increase the nutrient availability for the plant which gets it off to a good start. Give it a good watering after planting and in any long period without rain until it is established.

Herbaceous border Sizergh Castle

Herbaceous border, Sizergh Castle

There are varieties suitable for stabilising slopes and preventing erosion by minimising the impact of falling rain which would otherwise wash away the top layer of soil; eventually leading to just a rocky slope which cannot sustain any sort of plant life. The larger shrubs are suitable for planting as security hedging as they are very thorny. Some of the smaller dwarf varieties look fantastic grown as a specimen plant in a container. If you are looking for a low maintenance garden then this group of roses fit the bill very well, as they require little or no pruning. Just trim when they have finished flowering and again in February/March; cut out any dead wood and keep the centre fairly open to allow for air flow, which reduces the likelihood of any fungal diseases. If they become leggy just cut a couple of the stems back to the base, from where they will hopefully put out new shoots. If you are growing them as small climbers they require no pruning at all, just cut out any dead wood.

There are four groups of shrub roses: the rugosa types, the hybrid musks, the modern shrubs and the ground cover.

Rugosas are a cross between the modern bush roses and Rosa rugosa, producing large, dense shrubs. They are quite happy in poor soil and besides the sea, so are an ideal choice for that problem spot. They are generally disease free with large flowers, many of which are highly scented.

Recommended rugosa varieties:

‘Blanc Double de Coubert’ has pure white, semi-double flowers with strong scent. It flowers over a long period and reaches a size of 180cm (6’) high with a spread of 150cm (5’).

Shrub rose Blanc Double de Coubert

Blanc Double de Coubert
‘Roseraie de l’Hay’ has dark crimson/purple double flowers. It is a good repeat flowerer with strong scent. It reaches a height of 210cm (7’) and has a spread of 210cm (7’) making it an excellent hedge plant.
‘Sarah van Fleet’ has semi-double strongly scented mid-pink flowers which appear over a long period. It has a good upright habit reaching a height of 210cm (7’) and a spread of 150cm (5’), making it an excellent choice for hedging.

Hybrid musks flower in early summer and have a musky fragrance. The taller varieties make excellent small climbers for training along walls or over arches.

Recommended hybrid musk varieties:

‘Buff Beauty’ has apricot double/semi-double flowers with a good strong fragrance. Grown as a shrub it reaches a height of 150cm (5’) with a similar spread, but if left unpruned as a climber it can reach a height of 240cm (8’) – 3m (10’).

Shrub rose Buff Beauty
Buff Beauty

‘Felicia’ has pale pink flowers with a good strong scent. It has a height and spread of 150cm (5’).
‘Vanity’ has dark pink flowers with a heavenly Sweet Pea scent. It reaches a height of 210cm (7’) and a spread of 150cm (5’) making it an excellent choice for training against a wall at the back of an herbaceous border.

Modern shrub roses are a diverse group with a number of them blooming intermittently throughout summer.

Recommended modern shrub varieties:

‘Celebration 2000’ is a good strong yellow with double flowers, but unfortunately only a light fragrance. It has good disease resistance and repeat flowers well. As it is a small shrub, only reaching a height and spread of 90cm (3’) it is suitable for growing in a large container as a specimen plant.

Shrub rose Celebration 2000

Celebration 2000

‘Little White Pet’ has good pure white small pompom flowers emerging from pink buds, which are produced in clusters. Unfortunately it only has a slight fragrance but as it only reaches a height of 60cm (2’) with a spread of 75cm (2.5’) it makes a good container plant.
‘Marchenland’ is a medium sized shrub, 120cm (4’) x 90cm (3’) with mid-pink semi-double flowers and a good strong scent.

Ground cover roses are excellent for growing on a slope and minimising soil loss through erosion.

Recommended ground cover varieties:

‘Cambridgeshire’ has flowers ranging in colour from scarlet, gold and pink. It reaches a height of 45cm (18”) with a spread of 90cm (3’).

Shrub rose Cambridgeshire

‘Centre Stage’ has delicate pink flowers with a good clove fragrance. This is one of the lowest growing roses at only 20cm (8”) in height with a spread of 90cm (3’). It has a good long flowering period throughout summer into early autumn.
‘Rushing Stream’ has pure white flowers with distinctive bright yellow stamens and a good fragrance, producing lovely red hips in autumn. It is a good choice for poor soils. It reaches a height of 45cm (18”) and a spread of 120cm (4’).


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.