Rosa rugosa ‘Frau Dagmar Hastrup’

Every garden should have some rugosa roses, for they make tall, bushy shrubs up to 6 feet (1.8 m) in height and width, and are strong, hardy and easy to grow, in garden’s autumn colour.

One of my favourites is ‘Frau Dagmar Hastrup’, with single pink flowers with yellow stamens all summer long, and huge, shiny, scarlet hips. For a hedge, nothing is more perfect than ‘Sarah Van Fleet’, which is more upright than most rugosas, growing to 6 feet (1.8 m), with soft, pink, semi-double flowers and as strong a scent as that of any rose I know. One caveat – it does not do well on chalk, where several rugosas tend to chlorosis.

For sheer depth of colour, there is ‘Roseraie de I’Hay, with crimson double flowers, also highly scented, and for a white rose, there is the celebrated semi-double. Scented ‘Blanc Double de Coubert’, which makes a very large bush indeed. I also have a weakness for a country or in town. Many are genuinely perpetual flowering, and some single varieties have enormous hips, appearing while the plant is still in bloom. The leaves are fresh green and deeply veined (rugose means wrinkled) and turn yellow before they fade, contributing to the rugosa with quite a different look. ‘Pink Grootendorst’ has clusters of quite small frilled flowers like little carnations, but it is a martyr to greenfly.

Most rugosas should be planted 5 feet (1.5 m) apart, though for the narrower hedging varieties 4 feet (1.2 m) is enough. They do not need much pruning. They will put up with poor soil (except for the minority with a chalk problem), and a cold position. They look charming under-planted with the low ground cover of the purple-leaved Viola labradorica.

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