Resilient (and Beautiful!) Rambling Roses
Charlie Pridham, from Roseland House Nursery, on some of the best rambling roses for your garden. - 10 May 2019
As the days lengthen once again and we start to think of spring, and even dream of a summer like last year. Roses are very much part of that overall picture, and although we grow all manner of climbing plants here at Roseland House, if someone were to ask me to paint a picture of an English garden in summer it would definitely include roses. I am particularly attracted to a group of roses popular in Edwardian times - the Wichuriana ramblers. By crossing the Chinese species Rosa wichuriana with the tea roses then popular in late Victorian gardens, a group of roses were created with long flexible stems, shiny leaves, fewer thorns and almost evergreen habit. They flower profusely during June and July and then go on to flower intermittently until after Christmas. All are scented; the scent carries well and is best described as being like apple blossom, and of course being a climbing plant its up at head level so you can enjoy it!
Long flexible stems mean they are best grown as ramblers, being easy to train and less likely to suffer wind damage, and with a high degree of salt tolerance that is a significant bonus for those of us near the coast. Roses generally prefer a more continental climate than we get in the UK i.e. cold winters and hot summers and some rose varieties can be poor and disease prone if they don't get it, but the Wichuriana ramblers are happy anywhere and that includes north facing walls and structures.
Here are some classic ramblers all bred by the French Nursery of Barbier, together with their parentage.
Rosa 'Alberic Barbier' from 1900. R. wichuriana x a yellow tea rose called 'Shirley Hibberd'.
Rosa 'Alexandre Girault' from 1909. R. wichuriana x a tea rose called 'Papa Gontier'.
Rosa 'Francois Juranville' from 1906. R. wichuriana x a China rose 'Madam Laurette Messimy'.
Rosa 'Leontine Gervaise' from 1903. R. wichuriana x a tea rose called 'Souvenir de Catherine Guillot'.
Rosa 'Rene Andre' from 1901. R. wichuriana x a tea rose called 'L'Ideal'.
These are just a small selection of the many roses in this group we have here in the garden; we grow them on their own roots (not grafted) and we find them easy and reliable with no need to spray as they don't suffer much from rust and black spot. As you can see from their dates of introduction, these are all excellent roses that have stood the test of time for over 100 years.
Charlie Pridham and his wife Liz run Roseland House Nursery, a nursery that specializes in growing choice and unusual climbing plants. They are holders of National Collections of both Lapageria and Clematis viticella cultivars.