Rose Garden Design
Savor the beauty of one of the most beloved flowers: the rose. Discover practical tips for designing a rose garden.
Always dreamed of growing roses? Make those dreams a reality by learning basic concepts of rose garden design. Roses look good in many types of gardens, and whether you plant them solo or blended with other perennials or shrubs, you can grow these renowned beauties in your own yard. The secret to successful rose garden design starts with giving these bloomers what they need.
Sunlight is vital for roses—these are sun-worshiping flowers. You’ll get the most blooms when you site your rose garden design in full sun. Morning sun is always better than afternoon sun, especially in more southern regions, where afternoon sun can be especially brutal. Most roses yield the best flowers when plants receive six to eight hours of sun each day.
Choose the roses you plant carefully. Many modern rose introductions boast repeat blooming, flowering non-stop the entire growing season. If you crave the lush, fully petaled fragrance of a classic rose, you might want to plant old-fashioned roses, many of which flower just once a year. If you opt for Hybrid Tea roses, expect repeat beautiful blooms from plants that need pampering. Research the roses you’re planting so you know the types of flower show you can expect.
Roses benefit from ample elbow room. As you craft your rose garden design, don’t jam roses on top of one another or between tightly spaced perennials. Many roses are subject to diseases, which spread easily when plants don’t have sufficient air circulation.
In your rose garden design, give each rose a space as wide as the plant’s mature height. For example, if a rose tag says the plant will reach four to five feet, give it 2 to 2.5 feet clearance on all sides. You’ll also appreciate this liberal spacing when you need to prune your roses.
Drip irrigation or soaker hoses are another key in keeping rose diseases at bay. Many rose diseases attack leaves and spread by splashing water. Limit overhead watering by incorporating root zone irrigation in your rose garden design. If you’re designing a brand new planting area, using root zone watering is one of the most important steps you can take toward improving rose health.
Decide if you want to create a garden devoted solely to roses or if you want to intermingle roses with other garden plants. For a solo rose garden, you’ll likely want formal planting beds to showcase different varieties and types. Many roses have knobby “knees” or lower stems. In a formal rose garden, hide these stems with a neatly trimmed boxwood or germander hedge.
'Busy Bee' Rose
Opt for ‘Busy Bee’™ if you’re planting in a small space or container. This miniature hybrid tea has very good resistance to cold and stands up well to summer heat and humidity. The flowers start out apricot, peach and coral, gradually fading to light and hot pink at the edges. For best results, keep the plants deadheaded.
'Cream Veranda' Rose
If you want to enjoy your roses in containers on your deck or patio, grow 'Cream Veranda®. The plants were bred to thrive in containers until fall, when they can be planted into your garden. This rose has creamy, double blooms with apricot centers that open to 2-½ inches across.
‘Brilliant Veranda’ Rose
This floribunda rose is outstanding for its nearly glowing, red-orange blooms.. The full flowers may remind you of lush English roses. Bred especially for containers, 'Brilliant Veranda' is stunning when combined with annuals or perennials and also thrives in a sunny bed or border.
'Lavender Veranda' Rose
Compact ‘Lavender™ Veranda’®, like other roses in the Veranda® series, is great as a patio plant, but it also flourishes in a sunny garden spot. This floribunda has dense, "old-fashioned" blooms. It's exceptionally cold hardy, recommended for zones 5 to 9, and holds up well in hot, humid weather.
Easy Elegance Little Mischief Rose
Perfect for front-of-the-bed plantings, this little rose grows to a tidy 2 to 3 feet tall and wide. Deep pink 1-inch flowers fade to light pink as they age, ensuring your shrub is covered in pink shades all season long. Hardy in Zones 4-9. Botanical name: Rosa ‘BAIief’
Easy Elegance Coral Cove Rose
If you’re in the market for a fuss-free rose, check out the multi-colored beauty of Coral Cove. Three-inch blossoms open to reveal a trio of hues: dark pink outer edges, orange centers and a bright yellow base. Use it as an informal hedge along a walkway or planting bed. Disease-resistant plants grow 3 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 4-9. Botanical name: Rosa ‘BAIove’
'Grace' David Austin English Rose
Winner of an RHS Award of Garden Merit, ‘Grace’ has apricot-colored blooms that combine beautifully with dark red and purple flowers and foliage. Grow this tree rose for its repeat blooms, warm perfume and exceptionally healthy performance in the garden.
'Winchester Cathedral' David Austin English Rose
Try ‘Winchester Cathedral’ in mixed borders. This shrub blooms unusually early in the growing season, forming double white flowers brushed with buff-pink in the centers. In warm weather, the old rose fragrance becomes stronger, perfuming the air with the scent of honey and almond blossoms.
'The Lady of the Lake' David Austin Rose
'The Lady of the Lake’ is a rather rare combination: a repeat-bloomer and a rambling rose. Its slender, flexible stems grow 10 to 12 feet in length, and the blush-pink flowers have a fresh, citrus fragrance. Use it on a pergola, arch, arbor, wall or other structure, or let it form a small tree.
Showcase climbing roses on a trellis, tripod, or tuteur. Some old-fashioned climbers will gladly clamber up a dead tree, soaring to amazing heights. Or build a specialized umbrella-type trellis that allows canes to grow up and drape over a wheel perched atop a pole. Climbing roses demand sturdy supports. Make sure posts are well anchored or your climber might wrestle its support to the ground.
To display roses with other plants, make sure you don’t surround a rose with a plant that’s going to overtake it. Perennials like Rozanne cranesbill geranium (Geranium x ‘Rozanne’) can quickly spread up and over a newly planted rose, and a happily spreading false indigo (Baptisia australis) or Morning Light maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’) can crowd out and shade a rose.
No matter which type of rose garden design you pursue, always start with soil that’s heavily enriched with organic matter. Whether you’re growing Old Garden roses, Hybrid Teas or modern Shrub roses, these blooming beauties demand rich soil that’s well-drained. Amend soil with well-rotted manure, homegrown compost or other locally available soil conditioner.