R. 'Comte de Chambord'

In flower now – Shrub Roses

Shrub roses

We are now in the peak time for roses. A great variety are now available. For formal beds or showing, the classic hybrid teas such as ‘Peace’ are still unsurpassed, while floribundas such as ‘Iceberg’ are good for mass planting. Recent years have seen renewed interest in shrub roses which go well with other plants in mixed borders. The fact that some have good fragrance is another plus point. Newer varieties of these roses are the product of various crosses between species roses and modern bush types during the 20th century. The result is a wide mixture of shrubs of varying sizes and colours although they are usually quite large, reaching 5ft or 6ft in height. Most are tough and reliable. Many of them will repeat flower unlike the wild species.  The old- fashioned shape of the blooms look appropriate in cottage garden settings.

With those that produce colourful hips the lack of repeat flowers is not a problem.  Good examples are R. glauca, formerly rubrifolia, with attractive red foliage and red hips following from small pink flower. If you have space, the tall R. moyesii, especially the form ‘Geranium’, has bright red hips. The well-known R. rugosa has cherry tomato-likeDavid Austin hips. Often seen in public landscape schemes, this has an unfortunate habit of trapping litter in its many prickles.

Of the traditional shrub roses, it is still worth growing one of the old moss roses with their unusual mossy growths on their sepals.  Rosa mundi has stripes, ‘Zephirine Drouhin’ is the thornless rose with scented flowers but is prone to fungus problems, ‘Comte de Chambord’ is another good pink while ‘Reine de Violettes’ starts deep pink then takes on a purple tinge.

Of the newer hybrids, many raised by David Austin whose website is well worth a look, most repeat flower.  ‘Princess Anne’ is a very floriferous dark pink, ‘Dame Judi Dench’ is apricot,’ Gertrude Jekyll’ has very good scent, ‘Darcey Bussell’ is deep red, ‘Bonica’ is pink and very reliable, ‘Red Coat’ has large single blooms whereas ‘Ballerina’ has lots of small flowers in clusters.