Rose Gardens: Artistic Planting Schemes

Though many a Rose Garden is made with its planting limited to beds of bush roses, and occasional pillars or arches of climbing or rambling roses, the true rose enthusiast will ask for something rather better. When you begin to love a flower, you find yourself gradually wanting to know it in all its moods, to use it in every possible way, and to become acquainted with its worst as well as its best varieties. Love is, in fact, tolerant of defects, and ready to find some virtue even in the least promising of the species.

The old-fashioned Damask Roses (Rosa Damascena), for example, make comparatively little appeal to the average gardener, but the rose fan would not be without them, if only because he has read their history, and respects their long lineage. They were grown in Italy certainly many centuries ago, for they were mentioned in the classics. One of them, the “York and Lancaster” rose, so called because of its combined red and white petal markings, is a favourite representative of the group. The China Rose, or Monthly Rose, parent of most of the modem roses is another favourite with the sentimental grower. Bourbon Roses, such as the well-known Zephyrine Drouhin, are mostly grown for hedging. This is a wise use to make of them, especially when a hedge is being formed as a boundary to the rose garden.

A close up of a rose at University of the Paci...

A close up of a rose at University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Formality softened

The use of some of the lesser-known species and varieties of roses gives the rose grower an opportunity to lessen the severity of geometrical beds set evenly with bush roses. A rose garden cut out of a hillside, for instance, where the site has been levelled, and one end rises in a rather steep bank, could be made very charming if this bank were set with some of the rose species that are best allowed to grow thick and bushy without much pruning. I would use there plenty of the Sweet Briars, preferably the Penzance hybrids which have showy flowers of pink, fawn, crimson, rose and scarlet.

In the foreground of the bank I should mass some of the Pompon Roses, ie. the Dwarf Polyanthas. These flower almost continuously from early June until Christmas, and the colours are delicate and range through every rose shade. Owing to the fact that the flowers are in clusters, they suffer very little from rains, but seem to smile through tears in the worst of summers. New varieties are constantly offered, and there are about a hundred good ones in trade catalogues from which to choose.

Then I should also grow some of the Musk Roses for their distinctive fragrance. These need a rich soil if they are to succeed. Little or no pruning is required, though weak stems should be cut out from time to time. The plants can also be trimmed back sufficiently to keep them tidy, so they would be excellent subjects to grow near the side walks of the rose garden in a long informal border.

Moss Roses, the hips of which are so loved by pheasants, would find a place in this border too, and so would the single Japanese or Rugosa Roses, which are sometimes used for hedging. They make rampant growth, but can be cut back as desired, and though they are not evergreen, the stems make an effective hedge even in winter.

The Noisettes, of which Win. Allen Richardson and Marechal Niel are well-known representatives, might be used if a warm wall could be found for them, but if my rose garden were in a cold northern county, I should give preference to the extra hardy Scotch Roses, which are ideal when grown as standards or tall bushes.

Of course I should try to have one specimen at least of each of the species offered in trade lists to-day, and these include forty or fifty, some well known, and others more rare than lovely. I do not really admire R. viridiflora, for instance—the “green” rose—but I should like to own one specimen in my “rose museum” borders.

A garden so planned and planted would give me more real pleasure than the conventional rose garden of square or circular colour beds set in a clipped evergreen hedge, or spreading themselves carpet fashion below a terrace. And to plan a rose garden in this way needs no special knowledge, merely common sense, and sufficient love for the Queen of Flowers to carry the gardener through the voluminous trade lists, and records of the National Rose Society in his search for ideas and information.

Roses for Towns

One class of roses which must be especially mentioned before we leave this question of varieties and species, is the true hardy perpetual rose. Early in the nineteenth century the Chinese and the Damask Roses were crossed to produce this very hardy member of the rose family. For continuous blooming in unfavourable places, this is the best type of rose to procure. The heavier the soil, the better it will succeed. Hard pruning is unnecessary, but it does result in first-class flowers.

The hybrid perpetual rose is especially suitable for town gardens, where less hardy types are doubtful of success. Frau Karl Druschki, the snow-white rose, and Hugh Dickson, its brilliant crimson rival, are perhaps the best known of the group.

In addition to this group, there are some of the rambler roses which are good for town gardens. “American Pillar,” “Alberic Barbier,” “Excelsa” and “Paul’s Scarlet Climber” are all excellent for pillars and archways in smoky districts, and though I have not tried it, I imagine that “Easlea’s Golden Rambler,” which has such fine glossy foliage, will be another rose that takes kindly to the town garden.

It is perhaps worthwhile to note here that more roses can be grown in towns than most gardeners believe. Almost any of the strong growers with glossy foliage will succeed, so long as they receive a fair amount of sun, and the soil is kept sweet by an annual dressing of lime.

Single Roses for Indoor Decoration

Roses make a finer indoor decoration than any other flower. This is said deliberately, and though every Carnation, Chrysanthemum, or other flower “fan” will reply by shouting the claims of his particular favourite for the sovereignty of the vase, the rose will stand all the criticism that can be levelled. Rose foliage is lovely when well grown and clean, and roses display well if they are well grown, and in particular the single roses, which have become such favourites during the past decade, make most effective table decorations. Sulphur-yellow “Mermaid,” bronze-red “Irish Elegance,” carmine-scarlet “Isobel,” and salmon-pink “Dainty Bess” are all varieties which I have known to take First Prize in more than one Show in the decorative classes.


This is the insertion of eyes taken from the sound healthy wood of the rose, and inserted under the bark of a parent stock, usually the wild dog briar. Take the bud from a ripe shoot—that is one which is mature enough to be able to bear flowers. Test by rubbing over the prickles, as these fall off easily if the shoot is in fit condition, plump and firm. Shoots must be put in water if the buds are not immediately used. The leaves must all be removed close to the base of the leaf stalk. Then cut the bud out of the wood with a sharp knife, making a shallow curve behind it so that the bud sits half way along a thin strip of bark and wood. When the knife is nearly through, pull away so that you leave a thin strip of hanging bark on the end of the shield. In this way you will be able to strip the wood from the bud without bruising the bark, which is important.

To remove the woody part, hold the piece by the bark on either side of the leaf stalk and slightly pull back the thin strip of bark so as to free the wood. Be very careful not to take the bud with the wood. Then cut the bark at the bottom end of the bud half an inch from it in the shape of a V.

Preparing the Stock

In a standard, the place for budding should be on two of the three young shoots which have been left near the top of the main stem. The bud should be inserted as close to the base of the shoot as possible. With bush roses scoop away the earth to expose about 3 in. of the main stem, and clean it thoroughly from earth and grit. Speed is an advantage in the operation. In dry weather the stock should be watered well and shaded for a few days. If a bud dies, another should be inserted on the opposite side of the stem. This work is done between June and September, standard briars being treated first.

After Treatment

If the budding has been successful, ie. if the bud swells instead of shrivelling, cut all the branches of the standard stock, except those which have had buds set in them, clean away with a sharp pruning knife, and those that have been budded, cut back to within two or three buds of the inserted one. This must be done during November. These two or three buds are left, as the foster bud alone has not yet the strength to draw up sufficient sap and would be starved. In about May the stock should be again examined. Remove all buds below the scion and allow those budded to grow 4 or 5 in. only, then pinch off. In dwarf varieties, cut off the head of the stock early in March, leaving 2 or 3 in. of the stem, which will be cut away at pruning time in the following March. Carefully stake and tie all budded roses.


Roses that do well on their own roots and are mainly propagated from cuttings. Climbers, ramblers, many hybrid perpetuals and hybrid teas can be rapidly grown in this way. Take cuttings from well-ripened wood, with a good number of strong healthy leaves, when the roses have finished flowering in early autumn. Insert them in a cool, shady border facing north or east, and they will root well in the open air. Choose a shoot about 10 in. in length which has borne a flower and cut it off just beneath a bud with three or four leaves attached. Set the cuttings firmly 6 in. apart and 6 in. deep. Water them in well and give a morning and evening sprinkle. In frosty weather it may be necessary to firm the cuttings back into the soil. Cuttings do equally well, sometimes better, planted in pots, or a handlight or cold frame may be placed over them to encourage rooting.


Layering is easy, and generally successful. It may be done at any time of the year, by making an upward cut just below a joint in the shoot to be layered, from about 1-½ -2 in. in length, and pegging it firmly down into the earth. See that the open tongue comes well in contact with the soil. The soil should have been well stirred, and a little mound of soil can be piled over the layer, which is pressed firmly into place and well watered. An addition of sharp silver sand to the soil used (fifty-fifty) helps rooting. Remove any buds not required to form shoots in the new plant. In about twelve months’ time the layer will be ready to be cut away from the parent plant, potted up, or planted out.

04. August 2013 by admin
Categories: Roses | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Rose Gardens: Artistic Planting Schemes


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