Fresh Start Garden Decisions

kansasrose89August 14, 2014

I recently moved into a new house and have the opportunity to start a rose garden from scratch. I could really use some help, as it is quite overwhelming. The only variety I have right now is Boscobel. Here are the roses I am considering:

Graham Thomas
Lady Emma Hamilton
Jude the Obscure
Munstead Wood
Princess Alexandra of Kent
Claire Austin
Gertrude Jekyll
Abraham Darby

Do you think these will be aesthetically pleasing in a garden together, or look like a huge mess? Have you any opinions on a particular rose?

Thank you!

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Sow_what? Southern California Inland

I don't like mixing that many different roses in one garden, but that's just my personal preference.

I have Claire Austin; this is my best performing rose. New this year, and consistently has a dozen or quite a bit more blooms at a time. Our temps have been triple digit for quite some time, and the blooms on Claire are just starting to get smaller. Beautiful cup shape with an inner glow. I'll try to post a pic later.

A client has Gertrude, and this rose seems to perform very well in our area. It's a good idea to select roses that will do well in your zone.


    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 12:27PM
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ArbutusOmnedo 10/24

Ha, I'm quite the opposite, Jannike! I love seeing a myriad of colors that play well together and off of each other. Space is at quite a premium for me as well, so I try to blend a wide variety of individual examples of roses with companions in mixed borders.

I get the sense that many of the posters here are not quite so picky as strict adherents of RHS and other European (yes a gross generalization) gardening sensibilities, but most do seem to opt for lighter schemes and avoid anything that could be "tacky."

I think pinks, whites, apricots, yellows, and reds/purples would look great together if they are placed in a manner that appeals to you! I personally don't care as much about getting design help from a color matching perspective, because I know what I like is very different from what others prefer. I mostly seek help or information regarding growth habits, flower color in various conditions, disease susceptibility, and the like so as to know which roses to try and what sort of space they need.

That said, there are definitely colors that look better near each other. I think lavender roses look terrible near red roses, but it could just be me. I happen to like apricots with dark reds/purples or white, yellows with purples or whites, and pinks with whites or purples. If you are planning on putting them all in the same bed or area, perhaps try figuring out configurations where the largest roses (Graham Thomas and the other potential climbers) are in the back, coordinated with the smaller shrubs of varying or similar colors in front of them. Playing around with the design is fun -but can take a lot of time- and helps prevent moves in the future.

Best of luck!


    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 3:29PM
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seil zone 6b MI

I love mixing colors and forms together for a natural look. I think that garden would look beautiful!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 6:27PM
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poorbutroserich(Nashville 7a)

I have all the roses you mentioned in a very small garden. They go well together. There is a color theory, "color echoes" (can't remember the proponent). Anyway, plants seem to look great with shades and tints of the same color. For example:
Graham Thomas
Lady Emma Hamilton
Jude the Obscure
Abraham Darby
would all look nice together and pull together without "sameness". You may want to get more than one of those you like after you see how they do in your garden.
I think:
Munstead Wood
Princess Alexandra of Kent
Gertrude Jekyll
would all echo each other nicely.
Claire Austin could be a blender/transition rose and Boscobel? maybe with the warmer tones. Haven't seen it in person.
I agree with Jay, I cannot limit myself to certain color schemes etc. because there are just too many I want to grow. But I find that if you group similar echoes they really look pretty and blend beautifully.
I would caution that the photos you see of these roses aren't necessarily the way they will look in your garden (color wise) because of your climate and soil composition. My crimsons are usually cerise. My yellows usually fade after 2 days. My blush pinks are more often whiteâ¦.
Make sure your choices are zone hardy. I grow most of my new roses in pots so I can move them around and so how they do health wise. Eventually they go to their permanent place.
Are you going to have just a rose garden or will it be mixed with perennials?
The most important thing is to have fun and play with it and learn to listen to your own likes/dislikes. There are NO rules.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 7:15PM
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Thank you so much for all of your advice! I need to look up each rose's hardiness zone, but I think I may get them all if everything checks out.

I really like the "color echoing". When I was choosing varieties, I tried to put them into groups: warm and cool colors. I'd like to have perennials, too, but I have NO clue where to start with those. I have a lot of room in my backyard, so I'm not sure if they will all be in the same bed, or not. Who knows! I've been editing this list for quite some time. Hopefully I can solidify it soon and start thinking about placement!

Are there any varieties that you particularly like and are not on my list?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 9:29PM
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Color Echoes was written by Pamela Harper and I found it useful too.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 1:07AM
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ArbutusOmnedo 10/24

I would definitely leave space in your planning for perennials and annuals as companions. Roses are not always in bloom and having other points of interest around them prevents a "Rose Garden" from being interesting sometimes to a dynamic border where this always something of which to take note.

Some people are adamant that roses should be isolated and grown away from "resource stealing" competitors. In my mind, unless I had an estate or botanical garden type space on which to grow thousands of roses massed together for unbelievable effect, I could never grow roses alone. Even then, I would want Dianthus and a bevy of other companions in front of the roses. If you prepare and continue to treat your soil well, it shouldn't be a problem assuming you aren't placing ultra-vigorous shrubs, trees, or weeds near the roses.

As far as what to put near roses, I'd ask others in your zone. I visited family in Iowa in the early Spring and was shocked at how much less green there was, let alone vibrant color from flowers. However, I'm a spoiled person who has only lived at various locations on the California Coast in my young life so far. My expectations are warped. This was a strange winter, but the growing season is shorter in areas such as yours and I would find ways to maximize its impact.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 1:30AM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

I think you will have a good time with your roses. The one thing I have begun doing is to repeat the same rose. I have done this with many roses. The repeated roses make a pretty display, and the ones paired with them are pretty.

Austin roses are beautiful, but here they need spray. As you are starting over, if you would rather not spray, you could try some varieties that do not require spraying. However, sometimes the modern roses and the older varieties do not compliment each other.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 6:30AM
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view1ny NY 6-7

Here's another vote for a multicolored garden. Most of my roses are in pots on my back deck. I have yellow, apricot, orange, soft pink, medium pink, dark pink, white & red/purple and think the effect is gorgeous. My climbing roses are pink & yellow/apricot.

It gives me such pleasure to look at all those colors mingling together. I think it makes my small garden very interesting.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 1:21PM
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nippstress - zone 5 Nebraska

Kansasrose - I'm in a similar garden region and a little cooler than you, and Austins do very nicely in our zones. You should have no particular trouble with winter hardiness of those roses in your zone, though I did lose Lady Emma Hamilton once in my yard. Austins tend to like our dry climate and don't mind the cold winters and winds. They might blackspot a bit, but it doesn't seem to bother them in overall health or blooming. All of those roses should be a good fit if you like them.

The biggest issue in placing these, as I see it, would be height rather than color. I'm another gardener who loves the mix of colors, and these all have similar enough forms that there will be a closely blended effect of these roses in the same garden. The heights will make a difference, though, since you don't want tall roses like Abraham Darby in front of short roses like Munstead Wood. You'll want to check heights with people in similar zones, since many of these roses can be monsters in warm places like California. For me, some Austins frequently put out "octopus arms" where they grow long gangly branches, but those are manageable if you prune them back mid-season.

I don't have LEH, Claire Austin or PAK, but for the rest of them, here are my rough gauges for the relative heights of what you have listed:

Munstead Wood

Graham Thomas
Gertrude Jekyll (on the tall side of medium)

Jude the Obscure
Abraham Darby

Have fun with your garden, and you really can't go wrong with this list. We always love before and after pictures!


    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 6:40PM
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