Roses are a staple of English cottage gardens; their sweet-smelling blooms are loved by gardeners everywhere
The secret of English-style planting is that it is not too contrived, so rough planning is all that is needed. Don’t have plants neatly graded from short at the front to neat at the back, but mix them up to achieve a more random look. Keep in mind, however, that there is usually a formal framework of hedges or stone terraces behind all that charming disarray.
1. Make a list
Consider if you want a central water feature, flagstone pathway, Greek statuary, hedges or a stone wall. Make a note of which roses you most admire and other classic perennials you’d like to add, as English rose garden seldom include only roses.
2. Draw your plans for your garden on graph paper
Decide on where the paths, walls or evergreen hedges will be, as well as the materials that you will use to construct them. Allow each square to represent a foot of space.
Tip: Structures, such as gazebos, arbors and pillars will give a beautiful, romantic touch. A simple timber arch makes an appealing entrance, framing the view of the interior and enticing you to walk through into the beautiful landscape beyond.
3. Choose your hedges and perennials
Select classic evergreens such as cypress, holly, box, copper beech or yew. Opt for classic perennials such as foxgloves, bellflowers, daylilies, delphinium and lavender – these will all offer a nice foliage in combination with roses.
4. Pick a few climbing roses or ramblers
More vigorous than climbing roses, rambling roses grow in a more wild, untidy fashion, and will happily develop into a larger bush, hedge or tree. Climbing roses have a permanent framework of stems that produce flowering side shoots each year. To promote greater flowering, the framework stems should be trained by tying them to wire supports as close to horizontal as possible.
Roses are divided into categories according to their growing and flowering habits. The main groups are large-flowered bush roses (hybrid teas), cluster-flowered bush roses (floribundas), shrub roses, climbers and ramblers.
The main pruning period for all roses is spring, depending on location in the UK – usually early in March in the south, and around the end of March in the north. If you prune too early in the season, there is a risk that the first flush of growth prompted by pruning may be burnt by frost.
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All roses are prone to pests and diseases, so take special care to treat any problems as soon as you spot them. You can prevent them by keeping your roses strong and healthy: pruning, deadheading and feeding will help. Spraying your plants with rose pesticide may help to keep pests at bay.