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From letting them ramble over trellises to making them the focal point of a cottage garden, landscaping with roses is a wonderful way to add beautiful color and fragrance to your backyard. Everyone wants to include a classic rose or two in their garden as these gorgeous blooms are an all-time classic flower.
It's easy to see why they're so popular. With so many different varieties and colors to choose from, roses are one of the most versatile shrubs to work into your landscape design. They can be used in a multitude of ways, but whatever the planting combination they are always sure to be the star of the show.
It doesn't matter what the size of your yard or whether it's sunny or shady, roses can easily be worked into your backyard landscaping ideas, even if it means planting them up in patio containers if space is tight. Here's how to get more of these stunning blooms in to your outdoor space now.
8 inspirational ideas for landscaping with roses
'Roses are lovely flowers to grow,' says Jac Semmler, horticulturalist and author of Super Bloom, available from Amazon. 'They are the reigning monarch of ornamental gardens. They can be grown for their individual beauty and the blooms are a cut flower classic. Yet there are so many ways you can grow them in a garden and enjoy them with other plants.'
We've brought together all the inspiration you need if you're designing a rose garden, whether you're looking for ways to cover a fence or wall with pretty blooms or simply want to enjoy some fragrant flowers in your seating area.
Jac Semmler is foremost an experimental gardener and plant lover. She tends to Super Bloom, a creative plant practice that brings dynamic living beauty and diversity to urban spaces, landscapes and creative projects. Jac is a qualified educator, respected horticulturalist and botanical guide, and often shares her ideas at festivals as well as on radio and podcasts.
1. Let roses relax in a naturalistic planting design
If you let roses do their own thing they will look more spontaneous as part of a naturalistic planting design. Shrub roses like many of the old varieties can be integral to an informal scheme, thriving in mixed borders, intertwined with some of their favorite partner plants.
What to choose? 'Feathery purple and blue-gray catmint offsets any pale pink rose beautifully, and its wispy spires gracefully camouflage any blemishes that may occur on the rose’s foliage,' says the experts at the New York Botanical Garden. 'While the tops of roses are lush, the bottoms can become leggy and sparse. Good companion plants are those that hide their bare legs. Traditionally, lavender, catmint, lady’s mantle and tall growing pinks all make good partners.'
Roses are available as shrubs, ground cover, climbing plants and ramblers, and with this range of forms available there are many different ways to experiment if you love the look of landscaping with roses.
2. Make roses the star of a formal design
Neatly delineated rose bushes come into their own when partnered with smartly clipped topiary and manicured hedges as part of a formal garden design that favors a symmetrical layout. You'll definitely need to find out how to prune roses for this landscaping look.
If you're aiming to create more formal rose garden ideas, rugosa roses and hybrid teas are ideal choices. 'Their upright growth habit and profusion of blooms lend a regal and well-structured appearance to any setting,' says Diana Cox, founder of The Gardening Talk. 'Consider rugosa varieties like 'Quietness' for their low maintenance requirements, and indulge in the captivating fragrance of 'Peace' or 'Kathleen Harrop' for scented borders.' You can find everyone's favorite heirloom hybrid tea rose 'Peace' at Nature Hills.
You can also choose roses as hedging plants. Plant a single favorite variety along a well-defined line to create a simple color block effect. Why not give a small urban garden a pretty boundary, or hide a fence behind a rose hedge, to bring a linear style with a flowery touch to your formal garden design.
Diana started her website as a way to help others who are new to the world of gardening and plant care. She has been growing plants since she was a little girl, and started to document her experience in gardening a few years ago.
3. Create a scented seating area with roses
Every garden needs an enchanting place to sit, somewhere you can enjoy being immersed in nature. The planting can add a sensory experience to the enjoyment of the garden, somewhere that offers a restful interlude for your outdoor seating ideas. Scented plants come into their own in spaces like this and none more so than the best fragrant roses.
If you love the idea of being surrounded by containers planted up with fragrant roses, try the English shrub rose 'Princess Anne' by David Austin Roses. But there are so many more to choose from.
'The rose variety that I would recommend both for climbing and for scented purposes in a seated area is ‘Zéphirine Drouhin,’ says Miguel Camperos, VP of operations at SunVara. 'These roses are a dark pink in color and climb really well, making them a great addition to pergolas or arbors. They are known for being highly scented, with a really pleasant sweet/fruity fragrance.'
An old-fashioned variety, Zephirine Drouhin (available at Nature Hills) puts on an incredible show when in full bloom.
4. Add a whimsical arbor or arch
If you want to squeeze in a rose but your borders are already planted up to the max or your yard is on the small side, why not think vertically and utilize the space above your garden by adding an arbor or arch that will accommodate an abundance of blooms without taking up too much floor space.
'By bringing the blooms up and over, you can walk under them, fully immersing yourself within the roses,' recommend the experts at David Austin Roses. 'Create a cottage style garden with a painted wooden arch. There is no need to be too formal. Arches allow roses to span areas where there is high traffic, as well as those which are not suitable for planting below.'
5. Disguise a fence or wall with climbing roses
By training a fabulous, fragrant climbing or rambling rose up a wall or garden fence, you can transform a dull area into a stunning feature. This will draw your gaze up, providing color and blooms at eye level. Similarly, if a rose-covered wall or fence is at the back of a border this increases the impact and visual depth of the planting.
Training climbing roses on a fence or wall is easy and the result is always beautiful. Roses are a good choice for every kind of wall and fence, from chain link to wooden picket, and work whatever the style of your backyard.
'One of my favorite roses is 'New Dawn' as they are great performers,' says Michael Derrig, a registered landscape architect and founder of Landscape Details, who is based in East Hampton. 'As far a climbing rose goes I prefer 'Iceberg' and 'White Eden'. I have created beautiful wall coverings with them for some of the outdoor dining spaces I have designed.'
'Iceberg' comes up time and again as a favorite with designers for landscaping with roses. It has two flushes of beautiful soft-white blooms with the faintest pink tinge, one in late spring and another towards the end of summer. It's easy to train too and the stems go where you want them to. Another plus is that the foliage doesn't die back in winter, so the fence stays looking 'green'. 'Iceberg' is available from Nature Hills.
6. Add roses to patio containers
Roses can be used in containers to create a stunning focal point as part of your patio planting ideas. You can buy special patio roses too, which are in between miniature and normal size roses, and often have charming rosette flowers and neat, bushy growth.
For a modern look, try planting one variety of rose in the same color in boxy contemporary-style planters as a patio border. Other varieties of patio roses to try include peach-orange 'Flower Power' and scarlet 'Marlena', both available from David Austin Roses.
'If you'd like to bring an incredible rose aroma right up the patio, consider planting an 'Apricot Drift',' says Rebecca Rouse, the home stylist and garden enthusiast behind Rouse in the House. 'The maximum size is less than 2 feet tall. As it's so compact, it's the perfect option to plant in a container on the patio.
'The fragrance of 'Apricot Drift' is, hands down, one of the most beautiful roses I've smelled. It's lightly sweet, yet very subtle and not overpowering. Another bonus is that these roses are repeat bloomers, so you can have blooms from spring all the way through to your first frost.' You can find 'Apricot Drift' at Nature Hills.
7. Focus on roses in a cottage garden
Old-fashioned, fragrant varieties of rose evoke a romantic charm that's perfect for cottage garden ideas. With their big, blowsy blooms and glorious scent, they add a touch of magic.
Plant them amongst old favorites like lavender, delphiniums, and foxgloves for a charming, informal look that's bursting with flowers. Try to locate your roses near a seat or bench so you can sit nearby to enjoy their fragrance.
'To achieve a charming cottage garden aesthetic, opt for shrub roses planted in clusters,' suggests Diana Cox. 'These roses have a spreading nature and do not need staking. You might find 'The Fairy' captivating with its abundance of small pink blooms. 'Alternatively 'Bonica' is stunning with its profusion of coral-pink flowers.' 'Bonica' is available at Nature Hills.
8. Frame an entrance or doorway with roses
A rose in full bloom makes a stunning welcome home as part of your front porch ideas. If you're looking to frame your front door, give your entrance personality or add curb appeal then choose a rose. You can use one to frame an entrance, pot it up for the porch or use as a pretty detail in borders.
Roses smarten up any entryway and give it the standout factor. If you want to plant roses in a container choose one that complements your exterior aesthetic for a seamless look.
If you're adding roses to garden borders as part of your front yard landscaping ideas they are a good choice as they will soon settle in and look like they have been there for ever.
If you're looking for more ideas for landscaping with shrubs, here's one final tip from Diana Cox of The Gardening Talk. 'Overall, roses contribute beauty, fragrance, and structural elegance to any garden space. For maximum visual impact, consider planting them in mass groupings, using them to strategically emphasize key focal points in your yard.'
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Lifestyle journalist Sarah Wilson has been writing about gardens since 2015. As well as homesandgardens.com she's written for Gardeningetc.com, Livingetc.com, Easy Gardens and Modern Gardens magazines. Her first job on glossy magazines was at Elle, during which time a visit to the legendary La Colombe d'Or in St-Paul-de-Vence led to an interest in all things gardening. Later as lifestyle editor at Country Homes & Interiors magazine the real pull was the run of captivating country gardens that were featured.
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