Old garden and shrub roses FAQs

I have been told that the old garden and shrub roses have only one flowering period every year, at about midsummer. Is that the case?

This is true of almost all the old garden roses with the exception of most bourbons, the hybrid perpetuals, and the China roses; it is also true of the wild (species) roses . However, a high proportion of the modern shrub roses raised during the present century are fully recurrent.

I have read that shrub roses are too big for a small garden like mine. Is this true?

Not by any means. Some of the modern ones developed in the past century will reach only 1.2 m (4 ft) or less; ‘Yesterday’, ‘Frank Naylor’, and ‘Saga’ could be added to them. Of the older roses, most of the gallicas and China roses grow within this limit, as do a few examples from among all the other groups. Particularly suitable are the alba roses ‘Felicite Parmentier’ and ‘Konigin von Danemarck’; while the species or wild rose ‘Canary Bird’ can be kept to a moderate size if grown as a standard.

Are there any special advantages in growing shrub roses?

Yes, they greatly increase the uses to which roses in the garden can be put, for they provide many additional types of flowers, new and beautiful colour combinations, different and often very attractive foliage, and, in some cases, a fine display of decorative hips. They enable you to use roses for hedges of all sizes, you can grow them in a shrub border either on their own or mixed with other shrubs, or you can use them for specimen planting in a lawn or to fill up a difficult corner. Choose roses like ‘Fruhlingsgold’, ‘Friihlingsmorgen’, or ‘Nevada’ for this.

Which are the best roses to grow for decorative hips?

For the sheer size of their hips, which can be over 25 mm (1 in) in diameter and as red as tomatoes (which they much resemble), pick members of the rugosa family that have single flowers, such as ‘Frau Dagmar Hartopp’, R. rugosa alba, and ‘Scabrosa’. As they are recurrent, the hips of the first flush of flowers appear with the later blooms. Many of the wild (species) roses have hips varying in colour from red through orange to yellow, and some even of black. R. roxburghii has prickly hips resembling the fruit of the horse chestnut, while those of R. pomifera resemble large red gooseberries. Perhaps the most spectacular hips are those of R. moyesii and its various hybrids; they are bottle-shaped, bright red, and each may be up to 50 mm (2 in) long.

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