The Rose in Garden Design: Aesthetic and Practical Uses

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Undoubtedly, the rose is most noted for its blooms, such masterpieces that one perhaps cares little for other aspects of the plant. Yet you can also enjoy this queen of flowers for its landscape contribution to your yard.

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For this purpose, you view the rose as a flowering shrub—in which capacity, its good habits qualify it better than most.

Perfect For Garden Design and Landscapes

If the roses you have grown have been mostly climbers or bush-type hybrid teas planted in conventional rose beds, you have been missing an exciting adventure in garden design. Roses lend themselves beautifully to many landscapes. 

They come in such a diversity of types and sizes it’s no wonder that gardeners can find some roses to fit into almost any landscape situation except where you need tall trees.

It is easy to find rose varieties that will perform well as low or medium hedges, as ground covers, as edgings, or as the color mainstay in planter boxes. 

Some gardeners even use certain kinds to climb into low trees, where they decorate the limbs in spring with their profuse blooms on long garland-like canes.

Approach the idea of using roses in garden design by getting thoroughly acquainted with all the different kinds so that you understand how best to use them and get full value from them. 

Pruning will go a long way to adapt a rose to the purpose you have in mind for it, but to fulfill your expectations completely, and it helps to select the right one in the first place.

Consider Roses For Hedges

Consider roses for hedges you may be planning. They have one big advantage over other kinds of hedge plants you could use, and that is color. With many kinds, the color lasts all season long. 

Of course, hedges made of roses will be informal—they will not have the stiff architecture of a sheared hedge. 

For a low hedge that is just a decorative edging, start with the floribundas, small ones like ‘China Doll’ (white), ‘Summer Snow’ (white), or ‘Pinkie’ (pink) spaced 21A feet apart. 

For something a little taller, use ‘Sarabande’ (orange scarlet, with single flowers), `Pink Lafayette’ (pink), and the splendid white ‘Dag-mar Spath.’ 

Other floribundas like ‘Betty Prior’ (pink) and ‘Masquerade’ will make a taller hedge—from 3’ to 5’ feet. Plan your color scheme and then buy the roses to complete it.

For something robust to make a barrier, the `Fairy’ rose seems unexcelled—a spreading bush that keeps itself covered with small pink double blooms. 

And for something tall that you’d want for a screen, the old ‘Frau Karl Druschki’ is a towering giant with enormous white blooms, although they appear only infrequently after the spring blooming season.

Grandifloras Make Good Hedges

The Grandiflora roses make a good tall hedge with excellent screening potential. 

To avoid having the plants compete with each other for root space, food, and water, set them 3’ or 4’ feet apart, so they may develop into well-rounded bushy specimens. 

‘Queen Elizabeth,’ one of the first of the grandifloras, makes a tall hedge crowned with soft pink flowers on long cutting stems. 

‘Buccaneer’ performs similarly, with yellow blooms. Several others as well in this rose group can be depended upon for a hedge at least five feet high.

In areas with mild climates, a variety that is exceptionally well suited for high hedges is ‘Mermaid.’ It will make a shining evergreen screen of strong branches and rich foliage, with single cream-white flowers in the spring.

The vogue for rose fences has encouraged the wide use of roses for enclosures. However, this idea has no place in a small garden. The effect is more of a hedgerow or field enclosure and requires much room. 

Such fences are ideal for a country place. They provide excellent wildlife cover, and the fruit is relished as winter food by birds, which also find shelter among the close-set branches.

County Fair Rose

The dainty pink flowers of ‘County Fair,’ a new rose this season, are a welcome change from the often harsh red blooms of most living fence roses. 

Bred for low cost and ease of maintenance, ‘County Fair’ will grow either as an informal bush or as a trimmed hedge to four feet tall.

It is one of the summer-long flowering kinds in this class. The new Hybrid 311 is another.

Planters For Roses Need Plenty of Root Room

For use in planters, the floribundas are ideally suited. Some, like ‘Frolic,’ will drape themselves pleasingly over a wall; others, like ‘Vogue,’ are more upright to give a tailored effect.

They should be at least 3’ feet wide and 2’ feet deep and filled with a soil mixture of three parts loam, one part rotted manure, and one part peat moss. 

Periodically through the growing season, feed the rose plants with complete plant food. Cottonseed meal has proved to be a valuable plant food supplement in places where the soil tends to be alkaline.

Roses In Tree Branches

You can use roses for bank covers, too. Some of the pillar types are good for this purpose, such as `High Noon,’ Don Juan,’ and mild climates, ‘Mermaid.’ 

Arch their branches over gently and peg them to the earth with wires bent to a hairpin shape. This encourages buds along the stems to break either into flowering stems or strong branches. 

Because this type of rose is so vigorous, you can achieve a lavish display on a bank with only a few plants. However, if you wish instead to use floribunda roses as a bank or ground cover, you can get an entirely different effect. 

Space them four feet apart each way. They require no training. Both `Goldilocks’ and ‘Summer Snow’ are excellent kinds for this.

Landscape Use For Roses

Another landscape use for roses is to decorate otherwise flowerless trees with streamers of color for several weeks in spring. 

For this specialized purpose, a good choice is either the thornless yellow Banksia rose or the apricot-hued ‘Gold of Ophir.’ 

(Neither of these is considered hardy for Northern winters, and in fact, this method is probably impractical wherever winter protection of roses is needed.) 

The canes, of course, do not naturally twine around the tree but must be trained upward through the branches. 

A good way to do this is to provide a tall, lightweight wooden stake upon which the canes may climb until they are long enough to be tied with cloth strips or soft twine to the tree branches above. Do not use wire ties, or you may injure the tree.

To keep color continuous from the ground to the top of a climbing rose, set a bush rose of the same color nearby or even in the same hole as the climber. It will furnish color around the base.

To plant a hedge of ‘Mermaid,’ set plants at least 6′ feet apart. Cut back frequently stems at first to force lower buds to break into branches. 

This builds a full and thick hedge-type plant. After spring blooms, you can trim the hedge to shape it. Only occasional light pruning is needed to keep the hedge neat.

Requirements Are Easy

To keep a floribunda hedge in good condition, you must remove dead branches and prune those remaining to the height and width you want. The best time to do this is just before new growth starts in spring. 

During the summer, you may occasionally need to shorten flower stems to encourage renewed bloom and keep plants at the desired height.

If you are planting a bed of different kinds of roses, group the varieties for height and color. Have high plants behind low ones, and group those of one color. 

A good plant to cover bare ground in a rose planting is portulaca. It is shallow-rooted, needs little soil moisture, harbors no disease, and shades the ground well.

44659 by Margaret Wheatly