My usual line on receiving roses on special occasions is that I’d rather enjoy gloriously-scented rich red ones in the garden year after year than a dozen extortionately-priced fragrance-free cut stems from the hot-house.
I still prefer to see roses flowering naturally in the garden in June, so perhaps I’ll treat myself to some new ones for the garden and there’s still time to order bare-root varieties – the best way to establish new bushes in your garden – lifted straight from the grower’s field and despatched to you dormant, without soil or a pot. And they’re cheaper too. In fact, you might even be able to pick up some bargains now the end of the bare-root season is approaching.
There are plenty of red roses to choose from. If you like hybrid teas – the ones with a pointed bud that unfurls to a very traditional rose flower shape, just like the ones used in bouquets on Valentine’s Day – go for ‘Thinking of You’. It’s a bright scarlet-red with a fruity scent and glossy leaves.
One hybrid tea that’s absolutely unsurpassed for scent and form is ‘Deep Secret’. Sadly, it’s not the healthiest grower so isn’t the easiest rose to get brilliant consistent results from, but when it does flower, the blooms are so perfect, shapely and velvety, you forgive it all its sins.
For excellent disease resistance, look to David Austin’s English roses, which have many petalled, luxurious flowers as well as great scent. Try ‘Munstead Wood’ if you want a darker, crimson-red, or ‘Thomas à Becket’, which is heavily fragrant and an informal grower, so is perfect for cottage garden-style borders.
If you want a climber to clothe a wall, trellis or pergola, then ‘Rambling Rosie’ is a lovely repeat-flowering rambler with small, single flowers. Or look for ‘Paul’s Scarlet Climber’ which has one big romantic flush of bright blooms in summer that keep their colour very well.
Add lots of organic matter to the soil when you plant – well-rotted horse manure is absolutely ideal – and water well after planting and as they establish. Then you can look forward to romantic blooms year after year, without having to rely on special occasions!
MUST-BUY PLANT: Agastache
Every day: Agastache foeniculum
Blue-flowered agastache are pretty, clump-forming plants but ten-a-penny in garden centres. They have aromatic leaves and flowers that bees love.
Extra-specia: Agastache ‘Tutti-frutti’
This special variety is worth the trouble of seeking it out, with its spires of slender bubblegum pink flowers. Also loved by bees and pollinators.
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