Roses Ancient and Modern.

  • I don’t know whether nice people tend to grow roses or growing roses makes people nice. ’ Roland A Browne.
Rosa 'Variegata de Bologne'

Rosa ‘Variegata de Bologna’

The most beautiful month of the year is here at last.  If your garden doesn’t look wonderful in June you may as well hang up your gardening gloves.  And of course the Queen of the garden is the rose.  The rose is luscious, sensuous, fragrant and exquisite in every way.  I haven’t the space here to describe all my favourite roses because the list would just go on and on.  The best for scent, shape and colour are, of course, the old fashioned ones; the Gallicas, the Damasks, the Bourbons and the Moss roses. They look wonderful trained over lobster pot shaped hazel benders or festooned from every tree filling the garden with fragrance. But of course there are plenty of newer ones too, specially the gorgeous David Austin roses which are fantastic.

I have a great love for single roses.  The name, Rosa ‘Complicata’ is a bit misleading because there is nothing at all complicated about the large,  single, pink blooms on this rose.

Rosa 'Complicata'

Rosa ‘Complicata’

If she is a little too pink for you then consider the Hybrid Musk ‘Sally Holmes’. It is a large shrub rose and has healthy green foliage and is a mass of large, nearly, single, creamy white flowers lightly tinged with pink. This is a rose I would never be without.

Another single rose I wouldn’t be without is the pale yellow ‘Mermaid’. It makes quite a large bush and the soft, primrose yellow flowers  have long, egg colour stamens.

Rosa  Rosa bracteata ‘Mermaid’

One of my favourite climbers which needs a south facing wall is Rosa laevigata  ‘Cooperii’, the Cherokee rose.  It has glossy green leaves which always look healthy, and huge, single, pure white flowers with golden stamens. I believe it is not quite hardy without the protection of a wall. Mine is a seven year old cutting which started flowering last year. When it is mature it is a mass of blooms.

Rosa laevigata 'Cooperi'

Rosa laevigata ‘Cooperi’

I have to mention two more very special, single roses although I haven’t found either of them particularly easy or strong growing. They are so beautiful though that they are worth persevering with. Neither of them are old; they are both  modern Hybrid Teas, but they don’t look like it. They are  exquisite. The flowers of the first one, Rosa ‘Dainty Bess’ are shell pink and they have very long, deep pink stamens.

Rosa 'Dainty Bess'

Rosa ‘Dainty Bess’

The next one is a gorgeous apricot colour. I don’t know who Mrs. Oakley Fisher was but she was lucky to have such a beautiful rose named after her.

Rosa 'Mrs. Oakley Fisher'

Rosa ‘Mrs. Oakley Fisher’

A.E. Bowles shared my love of single roses.  He compared full quartered ones to human faces.  He said: ‘Who wants to see the human object of their devotion improved by a multiplicity of noses of varying sizes, the innermost being little more than slices of nose so as to pack into the centre?’  Obviously slices of nose are not a good look for people, but in the rose it is exquisite.

The rose in the next  picture is a climber which grows in my garden.  It is virtually thornless and its flowers are a lovely shape with a swirl of petals giving it a frilly look.  It is a gorgeous shade of pink, deepening in the centre.   If anyone can tell me its name I would be grateful.

Unknown Rose

A rather unusual rose is Rosa ‘Viridiflora’ which is a sport of R. ‘Old Blush’.  Many people loathe it but I love green flowers and if you don’t look upon it as a rose but as pretty green flower it has its own charm and it is very pretty in flower arrangements. The green petals (or are they leaves?) are streaked with rusty red. I bet lots of people will leave comments saying it is awful; but it really is pretty in a vase.


One of the best places to see roses is at Mottisfont Abbey in Hampshire. The rose garden was designed by the great rosarian, Graham Stuart Thomas.  There are about a thousand cultivars laid out within two walled gardens.  At the centre of the larger garden is a pool with the lovely R. ‘Raubritter’ with its pretty globular flowers cascading into the water.  In the smaller garden there is an pergola planted with R. ‘Debutante’ and R. ‘Bleu magenta’; a winning combination.
The climbers on the walls are all beautifully trained. The most eye-catching is this lovely ‘Lady Waterlow’. I would love to have this rose. I suppose all the roses at Mottisfont are sprayed but this rose looked very healthy and vigorous.

Another climber that I loved was a Noisette called ‘Crepuscule’. It is a gorgeous shade of apricot which is a shade I can’t resist. It is a similar colour to the wonderful Hybrid Musk ‘Buff Beauty’ which I would never be without.

Rosa 'Crepuscule'

Rosa ‘Crepuscule’

I have a climbing Tea rose on my wall , ‘Lady Hillingdon’  which  is a similar colour but more butterscotchy. It is a rose that I love but I wish she wouldn’t always hang her heads. This one at Mottisfont is hanging her heads just like mine does.

Rosa 'Lady Hillingdon'

Rosa ‘Lady Hillingdon’

Apricot, peach, butterscotch; these are all shades I find irresistible in roses. I have the wonderful ‘Alchemyst’ growing on the back wall of my house even though it does get black spot and doesn’t really match my Suffolk pink walls. It is a gorgeous rose with a strong fruity scent. It was called The Alchemyst because of the way the flowers change colour as they mature ending up as a rich gold.

Rosa 'The Alchemyst'

Rosa ‘The Alchemyst’

A gorgeous apricot David Austin rose that I am very fond of is the beautiful ‘Grace’. I seem to have run out of sunny spots in my garden but Grace does very well in the shade of the apple tree.

Rosa 'Grace'

Rosa ‘Grace’

A totally different coloured rose that people seem to either love or loathe is the David Austin Rosa ‘Rhapsody in Blue’. It is not a blue rose of course, I can’t imagine why breeders are always trying to produce blue roses, or pretending that purple roses are blue. It is a lovely antiquey, washed out purple and it does fade to a slatey sort of colour which I suppose you could pretend is blue.  Although I don’t know why you should want to. Val Bourne recommended growing  it with Origanun laevigatum ‘Herrenhausen’ when she came to talk to my garden group. I would love to do this as the colours of the flowers are a perfect match. So far I haven’t been able to find a source for this oregano which is a shame because I used to grow it and it is a lovely plant. My ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ never looks as wonderful as the one I saw at Marilyn Abbott’s amazing garden, West Green in Hampshire.
Mind you, having a beautiful moon door built into your wall sets things off very nicely.

It is difficult to know where to stop once you start drooling over roses , so just two more.  I was rather taken with this Hybrid Perpetual, ‘Cecile de Chabrillant’, which I saw at Mottisfont. It is such an unusual colour.

rosa 'Comtesse Cecile de Chabrillant'

Rosa ‘Comtesse Cecile de Chabrillant’

I wouldn’t be tempted to try and grow it though. I have found Hybrid Perpetuals very prone to black spot. In the past I have tried the beautiful ‘Emperor du Maroc’, ‘Baroness Rothschild’ and ‘Paul Neyron’. They all had to go in the end.

I will finish with the most deliciously fragrant rose in my garden. ‘Mme. Isaac Pereire’. It is a Bourbon and like all its tribe it is thorny and straggly. You have to train the stems  to a nice shape or it will make a very gawky bush. And- it gets blackspot. But the flowers are sumptuous and the smell incredible.  So I forgive her.

Rosa 'Mme. Isaac Periere'

Rosa ‘Mme. Isaac Periere’

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43 Responses to Roses Ancient and Modern.

  1. rusty duck says:

    I’m not sure I could relate to a true blue rose, it just wouldn’t seem right. What I do like is ‘Mermaid’ at the simple end and the lovely multi petalled David Austin roses too. Bring it on.

    • Chloris says:

      I agree, a blue rose would be awful and Rhapsody in Blue is not blue at all. It is a lovely shade of faded purple and it smells divine. I forgot to say that it is a floribunda.

  2. croftgarden says:

    A lovely collection of roses – the perfect tonic for a wet Sunday afternoon in June. Unfortunately soil and climate are against me, I can’t even grow Rosa rugosa, so it was pure nostalgia to see so many of my favourites. Thank you.

    • Chloris says:

      So sorry that you can’ t grow roses Christine. They are my favourite flowers. What about roses in pots? Would they be alright?

      • croftgarden says:

        I had thought about it but not come to a decision. Perhaps I’ll re-consider, possibly one of the more compact varieties from David Austin.

  3. What a delight Chloris – so many beauties. I’m going to comment re R. Viridifloria – I don’t mind it but can also see why some folks will not. I’m seriously considering buying a yellow rose for the front garden. This post has just given me more food for thought!

  4. Flighty says:

    A really lovely post and wonderful pictures. My mum loved roses so grew lots of them. I do too but just have two on the plot, but may well get another sometime. I like white and yellow ones, and really prefer the simple singles. Sadly I have a poor sense of smell so I rarely get the scent of them. xx

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Flighty, I liked the rose on your post today. How sad not to be able to smell them though, their scent is part of their appeal.

  5. Cathy says:

    How lovely to see all these roses, including varieties that most of us will not have come across. I love the ‘bad hair day’ look of R viridifloria and the ‘purple’ Rhapsody in Blue’. Could your unknown rose be Zephirine Drouhin? I shall go and have a look at mine and check the colouring. By the way, I see what you mean about Souvenir de la Malmaison although admittedly I didn’t try the hairdryer trick. I expect you do it all the time 😉

  6. Chloris says:

    Thank you Cathy. No it is not Zephirine Drouhin I have that one and it is quite different when you see them side by side. I have gone through my Encyclopedia of Roses and I can’ t find it. It is a very lovely rose, I will try and take some cuttings. No I don’ t use the hair dryer on my roses, my family already think I’ m eccentric. Apparently scrubbing your Birch trees is considered odd in some non- horticultul circles so using your hairdryer on roses is probably even odder,

  7. Cathy says:

    They are lovely Chloris. Especially the last one… I can imagine the fragrance as I always think the straggliest thorniest ones smell best! And for me a rose simply must have fragrance! I looked up that Oregano because of its German name, and by chance this site came up in google:
    Maybe they have them in stock? I have a “blue” pelargonium this year which looks the exact same colour as that blue rose… more a sort of lavender colour really, but very pretty. Oh, and I like the green rose. I think that would look so good in my rockery… A very enjoyable post Chloris. 🙂

  8. Chloris says:

    Thank you Cathy, I agree fragrance is the most important thing in a rose and that is why the old fashioned ones are best. Thanks for the link, I will see if I can find it. It is a lovely plant.
    I am glad you like the green rose, it is quite cute.

  9. Anna says:

    Oh have to disagree with you Chloris as I think that May is the most beautiful month of the year 🙂 Having said that it is great to see roses again and you have some absolute beauties. I would like to visit Mottisfont. We visited Sudeley Castle a few years ago and the roses in ‘The Queen’s Garden’ there were a feast for the eyes and nose. I do hope that somebody comes up with a name for your unknown rose. She looks familiar but no names are coming to mind. What a treasure to inherit.

  10. Chloris says:

    I love May too, Anna, but June is my favourite month because of the roses.

  11. Julie says:

    Your roses are gorgeous and Mermaid has the nicest colour yellow, how large does that grow and what aspect, I would really like to grow that here.

    • Chloris says:

      Thanks Julie. I grow my Mermaid free standing and she sprawls rather because what she wants to do is climb. If you have a handy tree she will climb quite high. She is very healthy and disease free. If you want her to climb a tree you have to train it when the wood is young because the old wood is brittle. She flowers over a long period and even when she is not in flower her leaves look glossy and healthy. She looks best when trained because mine is a bit sprawling.

  12. What a magnificent display of roses! I must confess, I prefer my roses to be in shades of pink and white, as in the first old roses, and have no yellow roses in my garden, never mind blue or green! But I do find myself drawn to some of the single yellows, such as your “Mermaid”. I also like the Dunwich rose, a wild Scottish rose, with lovely delicate yellow flowers. I must expand my repertoire!

    • Chloris says:

      I love the Dunwich rose, it is such a soft yellow and has such a romantic history. It was found growing on the cliff top in the lovely coastal village in Suffolk. It must have been growing in the garden of one of the houses that fell into the sea. In medieval times this was a thriving town but the cliffs eroded and it gradually disappeared into the sea. Dunwich and the surrounding area is one of our favourite walking places in summer.

      • We know Dunwich quite well, having spent some wonderful times in Southwold and surrounding areas. It’s one of our favourite parts of England. We actually stayed overnight in “The Ship” in Dunwich once. It’s history is fascinating. Apparently, you can still hear the church bells, from under the sea! That’s probably why I fancy having a Dunwich rose. Lucky you, living so close!

      • Chloris says:

        It is beautiful round there. Have you done the walk from the cost guard cottages at Dunwich along the beach in front of Minsmere to the little hamlet of Eastbridge and back through the woods and Heather? It is my very favourite walk. And there is a nice little pub, The Eel’ s Foot at East bridge.

  13. Alison says:

    Thanks for posting all your wonderful photos of roses. I too have a soft spot for single roses. I’ve grown roses in the past in a previous garden, but right now I only have one rose in my garden — Rosa glauca, which I’m growing for the bluish foliage. It has a very small, simple, pink flower.

  14. Evan says:

    Hi Chloris, thanks for visiting my blog. I have a preference for single roses, as well, and love the peach and butterscotch tones. Unfortunately I cannot grow roses in my garden due to the deer. Even rugosas are mowed down to ugly sticks with a few bits of green inside the spiny tangle of stems. I do have native roses, though, that grow plentifully enough that the deer can’t eat all of them. Baldhip rose, Rosa gymnocarpa, is mostly left alone by the deer because it’s leaves are so thin and small they aren’t worth eating. And the flowers, though small, have a lovely strong bubblegum scent.

    • Chloris says:

      I expect Rosa gymnocarpa would come true from seed as it is a species rose. Does it seed around like Rosa glauca? How awful having deer, they seem to appear in my garden in winter, but have more interesting places to be in the summer. I do sympathise, they are terribly destructive.

  15. Annette says:

    I see we do have a lot in common as I also love single flowers and am very fond of my species roses. Monsieur said stop to roses now as they seem very fond of him and try to get hold each time he passes. Mermaid is a delight and I hope to find a place for it soon, maybe in Pompeii. I’m in heaven this year anyway as Rudolf has left all the roses for me to enjoy…hope it’ll stay like that, fingers crossed! La Belle Sultane is flowering now as well and Sourire d’Orchidée is about too. I love the Belgian Lens Roses as they’re so romantic.

    • Chloris says:

      I had to look La Belle Sultane up as I haven’ t come across it. It is gorgeous. I think maybe Sourire d’Orchidee is only available in France. I have noticed that my French friends have some beautiful roses in their gardens that we can’ t get here.Do you grow many roses up trees? If you train them carefully up a tree, maybe Monsieur will be safe from their clutches.

      • Annette says:

        In my new garden no but I used to…ramblers need a tough hand and lots of pruning to stay beautiful. You can get the a.m. roses in Belgium from Louis Lens who breeds lots of other fantastic roses by the way.

  16. Robbie says:

    finally some time this moring to visit all my favorite gardens out there over the cyber fence. Oh my, too lovely for words:-) You have the “gift” for roses, The climbing roses on your house look so lovely…I have always wanted to have climbing roses….working on it still, maybe some day soon:-) YOu inspire me!

    • Chloris says:

      The huge Lady Hillingdon on the wall in the picture is at the famous rose garden Mottisfont in Hampshire. Mine is much smaller than that, which is a good thing because my wall is a lot smaller. Climbing roses are great; you are always recommending vertical gardening. Every tree needs a rose.

  17. Robbie says:

    oh forgot to mention, I like green flowers too. I have grown some before and people do often say, ” I don’ like that green flower”….green zinnia in particular. I like them, though:-)

    • Chloris says:

      I love green flowers too. I love Nicotiana ‘ Lime Green’ and apple green Helleborus argutifolius. I keep meaning to grow zinnias but I never get round to it. I love them.

  18. jenhumm116 says:

    Hi Chloris, what a gorgeous post! Many new ‘faces’ to consider, but as ever, the perennial problem, ‘where do I have space?’

  19. Chloris says:

    I know, and roses really need full sun but I have no ‘ full sun’ left, but still I keep cramming them in. They don’ t seem to mind a bit of shade, And I still have plenty of trees left unadorned.

  20. pbmgarden says:

    It is nice see your passion for roses on display–they’re all lovely.

  21. I have never heard of and absolutely love Mrs Oakley Fisher. I grow mainly toughies up here: rugosa, spinossima, dog roses. You have made me wonder whether I could bring in Mrs Fisher without her looking too out of place….

  22. Chloris says:

    You won’ t regret it if you get Mrs. Oakley Fisher, she is gorgeous. She doesn’t t grow very big though.

  23. What a beautiful collection of roses, love your photos. I grow only bourbon roses and love them, they are so fragrant!

    check out my recent post on Japanese Iris blooming!

  24. bittster says:

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I live in the land of knockouts and don’t often get to see all the special roses!
    Not to talk about uncomfortable subjects, but are you familiar with rose rosette disease? It seems to be working through the multiflora roses in the nearby woods and I worry it will soon reach my garden. Is it found in England? I would hope not.

  25. Pingback: Green Rose Bush Flower

  26. thurksh says:

    I think your unknow rose is James Galway. Pics here:

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