Thursday 17 October 2019

Gerry Daly recommends the best climbing roses you can buy

Fancy a rose growing around your front door? Gerry Daly has the best varieties

There are hundreds of climbing roses, many of which flower in June.
There are hundreds of climbing roses, many of which flower in June.

A rose growing around the door is part of a popular garden ideal, even with non-gardeners, bringing back memories of the colourful days of childhood. It's easy to grow roses on house walls, as given half a chance, climbing roses are resilient plants. Usually, roses are grown on rural cottages or older city houses. Often there is a porch or extension of some kind, over which the rose climbs and they can also be trained over arches, obelisks, pergolas and trellis.

Climbing roses are less successful around the door of more modern houses, but might work grown a little away from the door. Modern houses have relatively large windows, leaving less wall space for roses, which can be big when fully grown. Most climbers need at least 2m width of wall. Roses look best on houses with timber windows, doors, soffits and fascia board, rather than PVC or aluminium.

When planting climbing roses close to a house wall, try to ensure you plant about 30cm or more from the wall itself to reduce the likelihood of drought especially in the early years. Many houses have a rain shadow close to the wall and the young plant may suffer if it cannot reach enough moisture. Eventually it will root well out and away from the house but initially it might struggle. A sunny position and good soil, with plenty of added organic material, will help them get established. If necessary, dig in plenty of well-rotted compost to create fast, early growth. Most climbing roses have the habit of growing very rapidly in the early years, not flowering, but when they have reached 2m or 3m, they begin to flower.

Many kinds have just one or two main stems at ground level. Those with new shoots from ground level each year are rambling roses and some of the old shoots should be cut back to ground level or near it after flowering. Climbing roses - those with a few old thick stems from ground level - should never have these old stems cut. These are pruned by cutting back the flowering shoots of the previous year to three or four buds in winter.


Climbing roses are usually sold in pots and can be planted at any time of year, kept watered in summer. It needs the support of wires or very strong, durable trellis. The wires can be fixed in position using expanding eye-bolts fitted into drilled holes and the wire strung through these. It's best to use a strong wire because climbing roses can become quite heavy.

There are hundreds of climbing and rambling roses, many of which flower in June. Some are once-flowering, mostly ramblers like 'Rambling Rector' or 'Wedding Day', both producing masses of small white flowers. These are big plants, capable of climbing a large tree, while the rambler 'Albertine', beautiful in June, and wonderfully scented, is much smaller, just 3m. Once-flowering kinds give a great sense of drama and bring an early touch of summer. But then they are gone. Repeat-flowering climbers have a first big surge of flowers, and that is followed by more flowers on new wood.

'Dublin Bay' is a popular red, repeat-flowering. 'Bantry Bay' is pale pink, repeat-flowering, and 'Compassion' is also pale pink and repeat-flowering. 'Excelsa' is rose crimson, once-flowering in late summer. 'Golden Showers' is yellow; 'Handel', white flushed pink; 'Alberic Barbier', pale yellow, all three repeat-flowering. 'Albertine' is salmon pink, once-flowering. 'Teasing Georgia' has two-tone yellow flowers, tea scent, repeat-flowering.

'Danse de Feu' is scarlet, turns purplish, repeat-flowering. 'Dreaming Spires' is faded yellow, repeat-flowering. 'Pink Perpetue' is warm pink, repeat-flowering. 'Schoolgirl' is apricot-yellow, repeat-flowering. 'Maigold' [sic] is bright yellow, once-flowering, early. 'New Dawn' is pink, and repeats. 'Climbing Iceberg' is white, repeat-flowering. 'Zepherine Drouhin' is warm pink, thornless, some repeating.

Apple OF YOUR EYE?-  There's a new interest in traditional Irish orchards, and if you're keen to pick up skills on site, soil health, varieties, pruning and more, sign up for the Irish Seed Savers course, Sunday, June 24, 10am-4pm, €70; or 061 921866 for booking.

PRETTY NICE - Cistus is also called 'sunrose', because of its flat rose-like petals but it is not related. Its petals are crumpled from being in bud and unfold beautifully. It forms a rounded bush of dark evergreen or greyish leaves and makes a perfect backcloth for the beautiful purple-pink or brilliant white flowers. At garden centres now.

HEAR ALL ABOUT IT - Lost crops of the Incas. Whatever next? Expert gardener and author Klaus Laitenberger is fresh back from his travels to South America and will be telling all at Galway Garden Festival, Claregalway Castle, July 7-8, from 11am; €10 a day. Unmissable.

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