It can be a surprise to some – there’s more than one kind of rose. There’s climbing roses, ramblers, shrubs, miniatures, grands and more, without even getting into all the different colours and flower styles. But which one is right for you and your garden? Read on for a handy guide to making your choice!
Start broad, and think about what you’re picturing in your head when thinking of your new rose. Is it a beautiful shrub/bush, standing front and centre in a flowerbed, or is it a delicate climbing dangler bringing colour to an arbour or arch? Maybe you just want to stand it in a pot, proud and solitary.
For the first, you’ll want a shrub or bush rose, while for the second climbing or climber rose are the words to search for. If you want to go for a pot, look for patio or miniature roses. You can also get ground cover roses to keep weeds at bay or cover up unsightly parts of your garden, and for abundant flora it’s floribunda that you want.
You’ll find your colour and fragrance choices after you’ve made your decision on the growing type, as each type has a veritable colour wheel of options available and a perfumer’s selection of scents.
Colours vs smell is a tricky debate to get involved in, but generally you’ll have to choose which is more important to you before deciding what you’re looking for. Not every colour will be available in every fragrance, and some fragrances will be specific to certain colours or shapes. Do you even want to smell them, or are you in the market for a burst of colour? Either way, common rose scents include:
- Rose (rosewater/Turkish delight specifically)
- Tea leaves
- Anise – labelled ‘myrrh’ to confuse people
As a rough principle, the fragrance tends to match the colour – lemon/elderflower are often on yellow or white roses, and fruity/rosy scents are frequently on pink and purple roses. There is some crossover, but don’t be disappointed if you can’t find the exact colour/smell combo you want.
Not all roses are created equal, at least in the sense that they don’t all look the same. In cartoons and media you’ll probably see a high-centred rose, where there’s a closely-formed centre surrounded by more open petals, while in rose gardens that are stuffed full of varieties you’ll see more cupped and globular blooms where there’s lots of petals in either a cup or ball shape.
Wild in gardens you might find flat blooms with just a few big petals (like the rose used for the red part of the Tudor Rose), and its polar opposite is the rosette bloom which has so many petals you can really stick your nose in. Like with fragrance, you won’t necessarily find every colour in every shape, but there’s a lot more crossover so you’re sure to find what you’re looking for.
When it comes to the colours, it’s very straightforward. Unlike all the other rose elements, it’s a case of say what you see – even though there’s all sorts of names like ‘Absolutely Fabulous‘ and ‘Zephirine Drouhin‘, they’ll still be called (respectively) ‘yellow‘ or ‘pink‘ in the description so you can find what you’re looking for. You might read that that certain colours have meaning, and we’re here to tell you to follow your heart. If you want a red rose, a yellow one, or an unusually purple one, just go for it – all it means is you can pick a good rose.
Some roses are ‘disease-resistant‘, which means you can go a little easier on thinking about where to plant them or what was in the bed before. That’s not to say that every other rose is a precious flower that’ll wilt if you look at it wrong, but these ones just have slightly better immune systems. That way you can sit back and smell the roses without worrying about what’s going on below the soil surface.