14 July 2013

I’ve caught some of the Hampton Court Flower show on TV this week, and was very pleased to see Rachel de Thame pointing out that a lot of roses are not very good for insects because they have too many petals, but that the single varieties are good for wildlife.

I’m not a grower of bush roses – they take up too much room for too short a display, and look rather ugly inbetween flowerings. I do, however, like ramblers/climbers. The difference between ramblers and climbers, by the way, is that ramblers will usually only bloom once in a season, while climbers will repeat flower, though there tend to be less flowers at one time than you will find on a rambler. My ramblers are in full flower at the moment and looking magnificent – I’m not sure what’s doing it, but this is one of the most floriferous years I’ve known, for all flowers.

One rose I’ve got is rosa polyantha grandiflora – a multisyllabic name for a very simple rose. I’ve got it growing on a trellis, for which it’s really too big, but I like it for both its flowers and hips later in the season. You can see that there are a number of branches heading for the sky – these will be the shoots on which the flowers will come next year, so one of the jobs for later in the year is selecting which to keep and tying them horizontal (or as close as possible), as this encourages flowering. It’s not a job I look forward to – it’s quite a thorny rose!

Rose polyantha grandiflora

Rose polyantha grandiflora

The other one which is going at full blast is not a single flowered rose: it was here when we moved in . It does, however, smell lovely, and the waft of scent around our back gate is very welcome. You can see from the photo below that I’ve got a clematis growing through it; my theory was that this would flower after the rose had finished, but it hasn’t worked out that way – I’m not complaining, I rather like it as it is. It is called Félicité-Perpétue.

Rose Félicité-Perpétue

Rose Félicité-Perpétue

Roses can be good for insects – single flowers allow access to nectar/pollen and the hips can be good food for the birds in autumn (not all roses set hips, so do your research). Whether you equally welcome the rose sawfly, whose caterpillars munch their way through the leaves is another matter – I’m OK with them: they are good food for the blue tits.


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