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A bunch of roses may spell romance to some on Valentine’s Day, but the way to a gardener’s heart is often a living rose – one that will last way beyond February 14.
Roses are in their dormant state at this time of year, so as bare-root or potted plants they may not look their prettiest in winter, but if you plant the right rose in the right place, it should give the roots time to establish, so you’ll have a plethora of blooms come summer.
Robert Wharton, managing director of Whartons Garden Roses (whartons.co.uk), says: “When choosing a rose, consider where they might go in the garden. They prefer a sunny, well-drained spot.
“A patio rose, compact hybrid tea or floribunda are good options as these give the recipient more choice over positioning. If the rose will be planted towards the back of a border, scent isn’t such an issue but pick a variety that repeats flowers quickly and freely, such as the Precious Roses.
“If planting near a seating area, choose a fragrant variety such as ‘Timeless Charisma’. When buying roses at this time of year check the compost is moist and weed-free.
“Roses are very hardy and as long as they are kept outside and not allowed to dry out, they don’t need to be planted immediately.
“If planting in the ground, make sure it isn’t frozen. If planting in a pot, pick one at least 35cm in diameter and use a loam-based compost such as John Innes No3 – your local garden centres will be able to advise you.”
So which roses suit which spots?
For the patio
Rosa ‘Lots of Kisses’: This patio rose with lightly scented orange red flowers and heart-shaped petals grows just 60cm x 60cm and flowers repeatedly from June well into autumn. The flowers are perfect for posy style arrangements. (£10.99, 3 litre pot, ashwoodnurseries.com)
For vertical space
Rosa ‘Love Knot’: You can grow this gorgeous climber in a large pot on your patio, and it will happily scale trellises up to a height of 2m, so ideal for urban gardeners who want to make the most of their vertical space. The stunning red blooms are lightly scented and should give you flowers all summer, into autumn. (£12.95, 4 litre pot, britishroses.co.uk)
Front of house
Rosa ‘Crimson Shower’: Who could resist a gorgeous rambling rose that can cascade over walls, arches and even the front of your house, producing a mass of showstopping crimson blooms? It’s easy to train and will begin to flower in summer and, if you look after it, those crimson flowers should continue until September. It may not be available till mid-February, but this is a gift worth waiting for. (£18.50, for bare root rose, davidaustinroses.co.uk)
For beds and borders
Rosa ‘Captain Tom’: What better tribute to Captain Sir Tom Moore than a rose in his name? This beautiful new bright red variety from Harkness Roses has been named in his honour, and its impressive repeat-flowering double blooms should lift our spirits in these difficult times and also raise money for charity, as every rose purchased donates £2.50 to The Captain Tom Foundation. It will look grand at the front and middle of the border, growing 90cm x 60cm, or you could put it in a large pot. If you’re buying it as a Valentine’s gift, splash out on the gift-wrapped version. (£20.99, gift wrapped potted rose, roses.co.uk)
Rosa ‘Timeless Charisma’: This deliciously scented hybrid tea rose produces red buds that open to highly fragrant magenta red flowers, which are ideal for cutting. The plant grows to 80cm x 80cm so again will suit a smaller space if you only have room for one, but invest in a few and you’ll soon have borders filled with flowers through summer into autumn. (£17.99, 5 litre pot, coolings.co.uk)
Rosa ‘Precious Love’: Floribunda roses are renowned for their hardiness along with their showy, perfumed blooms, and this one is no exception. This repeat-flowering floribunda bears lightly scented poppy-red flowers through summer and well into autumn, reaching heights of 70cm x 70cm. Others in the series worth considering include Precious Ruby. (£31.99, potted gift rose, countrygardenroses.co.uk)
For shady spots
Rosa ‘Princess Alexandra Of Kent’: If you’ve only got space that’s in shade for part of the day, this beautiful shrub rose is one worth waiting for (supplies may only become available after Valentine’s Day) as, unlike some roses, it will tolerate light shade. It’s renowned for its huge dazzling pink repeat-flowering blooms and heavenly tea fragrance, growing to around 125cm (4ft) by 125cm (4ft) and will be suitable for a large pot or in a mixed border. (Bare root, £18.50, davidaustinroses.co.uk)
Rosa rugosa ‘Rubra’: Ever thought about creating a hedge out of roses? It’s easy if you choose Rosa rugosa ‘Rubra’, which can create a dense, fast-growing deciduous hedge growing to around 1.5m x 1.5m and bears magenta-pink flowers in summer and big red hips in autumn – they’re a great magnet for birds. It needs full sun and fertile, humus-rich, moist, well-drained soil and you’ll need multiple plants depending on how long you want the hedge to be. (£19.99, 4 litre pot, rhsplants.co.uk)
For any sunny spot
Rosa ‘With Love’: This cool ivory floribunda will look great in any setting, whether in a pot or planted in the garden. Its full height is only 60cm, so even if you only have room for one potted rose, this should fit the bill, or you could buy a number of plants to put in the front or middle of your flower border. It has good disease resistance and its scent is subtle, so better for people who find the more fragrant types a little overpowering. (£31.99, potted gift rose, countrygardenroses.co.uk)