Plant Profile | Roses

Roses are woody, perennial flowering plants, with over three hundred species and thousands of cultivators. Roses range from compact, miniature plants, to climbers that can reach over seven meters in height. Roses are often cited as the UK’s most loved garden flower, and are essential for the quintessential English garden. With such a variety of colour, scent and size of plant available, there is a rose for every garden, whether that garden is a sprawling country acreage, or a city centre balcony.   

Roses generally flower from summer to autumn, with some varieties putting on a repeat display from as early in the year as May. Roses do have a reputation for being difficult to cultivate, but this is unfair to the plant, because with just a little bit of care, it will reward you richly.

Top Varieties

Rosa Gertrude Jekyll

Twice voted the nation’s favourite rose, this English shrub rose is one of the earliest in the year to begin flowering, providing a stunning display of large, rosette-shaped flowers of bright pink. It has a strong and heady, old-rose scent. With a height and spread of around 4ft x 3ft it is ideal for adding drama, colour and scent to small spaces. The rose is named after Gertrude Jekyll, a famous garden designer and author who was highly influential in the style of English gardens.

Rosa Gertrude Jekyll

Rosa The Generous Gardener

This is rose is full of beautifully formed flowers, that prolifically cover the pale greyish-green leaves. It is ideal for growing up a wall against a trellis or over a door or archway, providing a delicious fragrance of old-rose, musk and myrrh every time you walk under it. The flowers are a delicate, pale pink, that fade to the palest of pinks at the outer petals.

Rosa Generous Gardener

Rosa Golden Celebration

The rich, buttery yellow of these cupped blooms creates a real statement in the garden, being one of the largest-flowered English roses. They have a strong tea scent and are ideal for pots and borders due to their compact size and spread.

Rosa Golden Celebration

Rose Factfile

Type: Shrub

Flowering / fruiting time: Summer and autumn

Sun Requirements: Most roses enjoy a sunny spot, although some varieties can tolerate partial sunshine. It is advised to never plant a rose under the shade of a taller shrub or tree.

Soil: Roses can tolerate all soil types.

Hardiness: Most varieties are fully hardy.

Eventual size (height x width): Varies according to the cultivar, but can reach up to 20ft x 10ft.

Plant Care


While roses will grow in almost any soil, when you first plant them incorporate some well-rotted garden compost or manure to get them off to a great start. Mulch with bark chippings to help retain moisture and prevent weeds, but make sure that you keep the mulch around four inches from the stems.


Roses are hungry plants that really thrive with generous feeding. This encourages stem growth and the continuous formation of new bubs throughout the flowering season. It also ensures that, should your rose have any problems with disease, that it will still be healthy and put on new growth to combat issues.

From mid-spring until late summer, feed container roses once a fortnight with a general purpose fertiliser or tomato feed.


Water at the base of the rose, not over the foliage or flowers. Water newly planted roses frequently, especially during dry spells.


Prune in late winter or early spring, cut back flowering shoots and remove any dead and damaged stems, strip off leaves after pruning to prevent disease.

Disease Management

Black spot on the leaves of a rose

Roses can be susceptible to black spot, which looks exactly as the name would suggest and shows on the leaves. If your rose is suffering from black spot, remove the affected leaves and burn. You can also spray as required with a fungicide.  

Complementary Planting Ideas

Roses are versatile and depending on the variety can be best suited as part of a mixed border or as a rose border. Underplanting shrub roses with a succession of flowers will reinforce the beauty and extend the flowering season of your border. Spring bulbs such as snowdrops, crocus and narcissi are perfect.

A traditional companion for a rose is lavender, which complements the rose scent perfectly, and enjoys the same growing conditions.

Herbs and other aromatic plants are also great companions for roses, and members of the onion family such as chives are even said to increase the perfume of roses, ward off aphids and prevent black spot.

Rosa ‘Olivia Rose Austin’ and ‘The Lady Gardener’ 

Rose Top Tip

Encourage repeat flowering by deadheading your rose throughout the flowering period.

Rose Fact

The world’s oldest living rose is believed to be 1,000 years old. It grows on the wall of the Cathedral of Hildesheim in Germany and its presence is documented since A.D. 815. According to the legend, the rosebush symbolizes the prosperity of the city of Hildesheim; as long as it flourishes, Hildesheim will not decline. In 1945 allied bombers destroyed the cathedral, yet the bush survived. Its roots remained intact beneath the debris, and soon the bush was growing strong again.