Column: Gardening with Roses

I am wondering if other folks wandering around the City of Richmond have noticed the abundance of brilliantly coloured roses in every nook and cranny.


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The combination of a very warm spring mixed with a long haul of sunshine has created the most prolific year we have seen with healthy, happy roses.


Who doesn’t love the beauty and the sensory overload of these magnificent flowers?  Few perennial flowers can stop in your tracks like a mature rose in full bloom rambling over an old outbuilding or climbing up the walls of a house.


These plants tick all of our boxes - good looks, delicious scent, easy to grow and a long and glorious flowering season.


Many gardeners are reluctant to grow roses as they seem complicated to understand.  There are more than 100 species, which then have thousands of varieties in so many colours, all which have different habits and requirements.  As with most plants, it is all about choosing the right plant for the right place.


We have some incredible nurseries here in the Lower Mainland that are very helpful in assisting gardeners to make good choices for their landscaping needs.


Most roses are either shrubs, ramblers or climbers.  Roses are woody perennials with stems that do not die back in the winter.  Over the years these stems look like gnarly branches and will most likely need support if the rose is a climber.


The most prolific group is the shrub rose.  Many of the shrub roses have been included in the landscape design in our new multi unit developments in the City of Richmond.  They add brilliant colour and are very resilient to weather changes. Shrub roses were largely bred in the early 20th century. They come in many different sizes from a couple of feet tall to more than five feet.


English roses is a term identified by the prolific UK-based rose breeder David Austin.  David Austin has produced many modern classics, including the incredibly intense deep pink of ‘Gertrude Jekyll’.  His quest was to develop a perfect rose that combined healthy growth, a pleasing habit with floriferous blooms and fantastic fragrance.  Most reputable nurseries carry the David Austin roses.


Old Roses are another broad group that included many old varieties that predate the mid-19th century.  These roses are valued for their exquisitely beautiful blooms and fragrance.


Hybrid teas were first created when a tea rose was crossed with a hybrid perpetual rose.  Hybrid tea roses are instantly recognizable for their distinctive shape and large pointed buds.  They come in a huge palette of colour. This type of rose was very popular in the ‘40s and ‘50s and are often associated with granny’s garden.


I always wondered what the difference was between a climber and a rambler.  Well, I have both of them in my own garden. All climbing roses will reach for the sky.  The people that owned our house planted a climber in one area of our patio. It is currently reaching to the sky well above our patio roof so planted in the wrong location.  Our rambler chosen with the help of Brad Jalbert, Select Roses is very much the right rose in the right location! Our rambler is running rampant along our fence and dripping over our large camellia bush.  Ramblers tend to be vigorous with more delicate clusters of blooms. This is the first year since planting it a few years ago we have had so many clusters of blooms.


So when choosing a rose, think about what you want it to do.  Do you want to use it in a mixed border or climbing up a wall of your house or filling a space in your garden from top to bottom.  The next decision is to choose your preference of colour, scent and shape of the blooms.


Visit your local nursery to help make a decision that you will enjoy in your garden for years to come.


Lynda Pasacreta is the current president of the Richmond Garden Club.  For upcoming events and information visit

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