Growbag Blog

And the best rose is……

Last week while I, Elaine, was hard at work in the garden, Laura and Caroline were posting rather annoyingly happy messages on our WhatsApp group from the launch of ‘Rose of the Year 2024’ at Waterperry Gardens in Oxfordshire (yes, we’ll reveal the winner in this very blog!)

But first, it made us think we should make our own Rose Awards, in categories we think mean the most to you.  Here’s a turn-up – we don’t agree with each other……..!

1. Our best rose for repeat-flowering

Elaine: ‘The Alnwick Rose’. This is a very prettily-cupped rose. Like nests of scented pink tissue paper, its flowers are fleeting pleasures but this shrub rose just keeps coming – more persistent than a Partygate headline, you might find roses still blooming at Christmas.

Rosa “Alnwick’ – she flowers, and flowers, and flowers

Laura: Hmmm Elaine’s ‘Alnwick’ has more than a whiff of Barabara Cartland for my taste and those endless flowers popping up remind me of a scene from Fatal Attraction. My vote for the longest flowerer goes to the much more dashing Rosa x odorata ‘Bengal Crimson’. Even the name evokes oriental mysticism.

Out of the same China Rose lineage as this year’s Chelsea darling Rosa x odorata ‘Mutabilis’, the flowers are a mysterious deep crimson with rather crazily twisted petals set against purplish foliage. You can prune it hard each spring and keep it as a bush rose, but at Great Dixter it has climbed a good 30 ft up a barn wall. Starts flowering in May and doesn’t stop until Christmas.

Rosa Bengal Crimson
‘Bengal Crimson’ has gone completely AWOL at Great Dixter

Caroline: Now Elaine wanted me to pick ‘Harlow Carr’ or ‘New Dawn’ for this section, but I agree with Laura here and feel the Alnwick Rose was plenty of pink for one section. And anyway, the ghost of my wonderful gone-but-not-forgotten friend Bill Jamieson is at my shoulder urging me to recommend ‘Royal William’.

It’s a bold, red rose that Bill eulogised over for the length of its flowering period, value as a cut flower (single blooms on long stems) and its glorious scent, PLUS this is THE year to pick a rose with a royal connection!

R. ‘Royal William’, brilliant for a vase as a single flower appears on each stem and you can cut as many as you like – they just keep coming.

2. Our best climber/rambler

Elaine: ‘Paul’s Himalayan Musk’.  Okay, so this is an insane rambling rose. It only flowers once, but when it does, you have a huge wall of heavily-scented pink blossom that can bring down small trees.  And has.  I never liked that lilac anyway.

Paul’s Himalayan Musk – an amazing rambler

Laura: This is going to annoy E & C but I don’t actually know the name of my favourite rambler, but I don’t think I will be alone in loving a plant purely because of its provenance. Many of us will have a cutting from a friend or family member whose name has been lost in the mists of time. Ours was grown from a cutting rescued by my husband Tim from a rose he had long admired in our town centre. It was being grubbed out as it was obviously too thorny for a footpath leading towards the railway terminus.

Rosa Horsham Station
We have christened this once flowering rambling rose ‘Horsham Station’ but if anyone knows its real name we’d love you to tell us!

Caroline: I’ve had to break one of the 10 Commandments to reveal my recommendation for this. Not the one about adultery, the one about coveting. Every summer my neighbours’ Rosa ‘Malvern Hills’ pops over their fence with a wonderfully perky cheerfulness. In my opinion it’s the perfect combination of gentle colour, complimentary foliage, light scent and enthusiasm. In truth, I like it better than my R. ‘Rambling Rector’. I don’t want to have to do 50 Hail Marys but I do wish it was mine.

My neighbours’ R. ‘Malvern Hills’. Worth an uncomfortable half hour in the confessional box?

3. Our best rose for a small garden

Elaine: ‘Keros’. This rose is a sweetie!  As white as a T-shirt in a washing powder ad, its petals are frilly and frou-frou.  Its branches need a bit of support because the clusters of flowers are so heavy.  Its max height is 4’ so perfect for a small sunny corner.  I like the fact that the flowers are only semi-double, so the insects can reach the centres easily.

Rose ‘Keros’ – a perfect rose for a small sunny corner

Laura: Well, quite a lot of roses can be happy in a good pot. Personally I don’t like standard roses, which look as dated as bell bottom trousers and Afghan coats, and also dislike anything described as a ‘patio rose’, but there are plenty of floribunda roses that would be great in a pot. This is how I intend to grow my latest acquisition- hard won in the Peter Beales Chelsea Flower Show sell off ‘Koko Loko’.

Rosa Koko Loko
I love the rather spiritual washed-out look of ‘Koko Loko’, paired here with one of Elaine’s favourites, ‘Champagne Moment’ at Chelsea this year.

Caroline:Yes fine, this is easy, ignore whatever my sisters said, the best rose for a small garden is Rosa ‘Bonica’, no further discussion or argument required.

R. Bonica is compact and literally smothered in blooms from June right up to December

4. Our best shrub rose

Elaine : Oh, I don’t know what to choose!  R. ‘Champagne Moment’ with its flowers of palest cream? R. ‘Graham Thomas’ all decked out in sunny yellow, each flower smelling interestingly of the inside of a teapot?  No, the one that is taking my heart at the moment is R. Lyda – a Modern Shrub rose from Peter Beales. So pretty, so healthy, so fragrant – and even okay in shade.  She’s like a dog rose in neat white ankle socks and an apple for the teacher.

Rose ‘Lyda’ – an immaculately behaved dog rose!

Laura: Gawd, another chocolate box offering from Elaine, I’m afraid Lyda brings to mind visions of Violet-Elizabeth ( “I’ll thcream and thcream and thcream till I’m thick”). My choice has a lot more heft. ‘Oxford Physic’ also from Peter Beales, was a new introduction last year to celebrate the 400th (!) birthday of the Oxford Botanic Garden. A timeless classic with such a depth of integrity that it manages to look as if it might well have been in cultivation in the 1600s but with all the health and vigour of a modern shrub rose.

Rosa Oxford Physic
Peter Beales fulfilled the brief superbly when they launched ‘Oxford Physic’ – here it is looking so at home in Oxford Botanic Garden

Caroline:I can’t believe my sisters haven’t yet mentioned a single winner of the Rose of the Year award. They seem to be stuck in the 17th Century.

Rose of the Year winners are new roses judged on a rigorous criteria, they are all, de facto, outstanding. In my view none more so than the 2022 winner ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. It’s simply glorious, happy in a pot or the ground, disease resistant, repeat flowerer, breathtakingly lovely, and when I tell people its name, I can’t help saying it as a truth, rather than the name of a rose. It makes you feel that good.

‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ – it certainly is with this shrub rose in it.

5. Our best rose for scent

Elaine: ‘Comte de Chambord’.  This Portland rose has a swooningly beautiful scent that wafts for several feet around the plant.  Unusually for an old rose (introduced in 1860), it repeat-flowers. The fragrance feels old-fashioned and heavy, and even the flowers look old-fashioned somehow – I’m fine with that! (Oh, do stop rolling your eyes, Caroline……)

Rose ‘Comte de Chambord’ scents the air all around

Laura: For once I thoroughly approve of Elaine’s choice for scent and it’s great to see an ancient historic like ‘Comte de Chambord’ out-competing modern cultivars. In my garden it’s Rosa ‘Summer Wine’ – this poor rose is actually a climber but has to sprawl in our garden as although the scent is divine, I’ve run out of available walls for it to climb. So it has to lurk behind the hedge where it can’t be seen and just pump out the scent as people approach the front door. Its flowers could do with a little more va-va-voom though.Think the rose breeders need to get to work here and cross it with a rose like Elaine’s Rosa ‘Meg’ which has the most gorgeous big floppy russety orange blooms.

Rosa Summer Wine
I’m sorry but ‘Summer Wine’ looks too much like something Margot Leadbetter would have in her front garden, so you’ll have to appreciate its scent from behind a hedge

6. Our best rose for the Wow! factor

Elaine: Westerland. Laura is going to HATE this one!  Rose ‘Westerland’ is a turbo-charged shrub rose with red buds, and big ruffly yellow/orange/apricot flowers in massive clusters.  Subtle it ain’t but it’s not ignorable! 

It should be called OTT – Rose ‘Westerland’ is seriously out there!

Laura: Yes, Elaine has now gone full RuPaul’s Drag Race on us now. You’ve probably picked up by now that I prefer roses with sultry intrigue rather than anything light and frothy, and the rose that always stops me in my tracks is the once-flowering rambler ‘Veilchenblau’. Slightly sinister and unusually for a rose, happy in a shady site, this rose reminds me of a climbing version of the Growbag fave ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ (which incidentally Caroline was a winner of the Rose of the Year in 2003, so I’m actually completely au fait with past winners of this prestigious award)

Rosa Veilchenblau
Love the bruised plum colour of the individual flowers of Rosa ‘Veilchenblau’ – en masse they are a force of nature.

Caroline: Did Laura read the brief? R. ‘Veilchenblau’ looks in need of a good dinner to me but never mind, I’m bringing you a double climax.

Not only can I reveal the name of Rose of the Year 2024, but without doubt, it’s got ‘wow’ factor in spades. The 2024 winner is…drum roll please…Rosa ‘Meteor’ (it’s our feature pic this week!)

This shrub rose bred by Kordes Rosen, will knock your socks off next year (available in shops in the Autumn). Its beautiful apricot petals warm to dark orange in the sun with the outer petals going a deep red. You might feel you’ll do anything to get your hands on one, but remember, you might be joining me in that confessional box!

Wowee! Meet the Rose of the Year 2024 – Rose ‘Meteor’

With so many roses to choose from we probably haven’t mentioned your personal favourite so do let us know what it is!

Meanwhile Louise’s plant of the moment is making an impact despite all the other attractions in a June garden, click on the box below to find out what it is.

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By the3growbags

We're three sisters who love gardening, plants and even the science of horticulture but we're not all experts. We'd love everyone even remotely interested in their gardens to be part of our blogsite.

20 replies on “And the best rose is……”

Wow! So many to choose from. The various roses I’m my garden aren’t the best but they are faithful, giving their all year after year, some for over 40 years. If I could find room for more it would be a scented, repeat flowerer, thornless one.

Linda you’ve hit the nail on the head – these are the key aspects that most of us look for in a rose. We should definitely have done best thornless category. It’s Caroline here so I’m not sure what to recommend but Elaine will! Most roses though, as you say, make faithful, lifelong friends! Wishing you a wonderful weekend 💚

Could your “rescued” red rambler rose be “Dortmund” bred by Kordes?
Many thanks for your rose recommendations, you are just feeding my addiction! I look forward to your emails every Saturday.

Hello Sue, thanks for your suggestion and on paper it looks like a possibility, but Louise who grows both Dortmund and ‘Horsham Station (a cutting from mine!) says they’re definitely not the same rose. We’ve had a couple of suggestions on social media that it may be ‘Rambling Rosie’ but I think I would like to see it in the flesh to be 100 % sure!!
So glad you enjoy our blogs – it’s so lovely to share the enjoyment gardening brings us with others
Best wishes

Hi Linda, Elaine here. Well, Rosa Banksiae is my go-to totally thornless rose, but it’s once-flowering and not terribly scented! You could try R.’Reine de Violettes’ though, which looks like a really old-fashioned rose but repeats all summer and has a fabulous scent. And not many thorns! Have a lovely weekend and thank so much for your hugely-appreciated support.

Generous Gardener. I have to have a deep breath every time I pass it to inhale the gorgeous perfume, and it’s a beautiful shape and perfect soft pinky apricot.

Oh my goodness, Maggie – that sounds enchanting! And what a lovely name for a rose to have. Okay, that’s another one to put on the list – except for the tiny matter of having NO MORE ROOM…….All the best, Elaine

Chandos Beauty for perfume. Mine is planted by the path to the front door and no one can miss the wonderful aroma.

Hi Margaret, Elaine here. This is one of my favourites too (and Mary Berry’s, actually!) but my mean sisters wouldn’t let me choose it because I had talked about it in an earlier blog. I think this rose has a perfect shape and scent and only has one fault as far as I can see – it does succumb to blackspot much more readily than many other roses. Excellent plan to plant scented roses by a path!

Rose of the year ‘Meteor’ wow! I love all roses that remind me of fire! It helps if they are also fragrant like Doris Tysterman (may be past its best now), Just Joey, Remember Me.

Hi Ceinwen, Elaine here. Yes, there is certainly no ignoring ‘Meteor’, is there?! It will be everywhere by next year. The other roses you mention have all been around for quite a long time, I believe, and I agree that while there is a huge amount of fuss about the new roses being launched all the time, there is a great deal to be said for the older varieties, especially when considering scent. Happy gardening!

On a recent visit to David Austin I bought Eustacia Vye. A beauty that is pink with apricot centres and a wonderful fragrance!

Hi Christine, I remember this rose being launched by David Austin in 2019, and thinking that it was right up my street – it does look incredibly pretty, and if it’s loaded with fragrance too, then it’s got to be a winner. How lucky we are that David Austin decided to develop a whole new range of English roses (way back in 1969!), which have the form and scent of the old varieties combined with the vigour, repeat-flowering, and health of modern ones. What a complete icon of the horticultural world. Thank you so much for writing in.

Caroline, I’m delighted to have a name for that gorgeous yellow rose escaping P&G’s fence!! It catches my eye every time I drive past. Definitely on my list now!🤩😁
I had a Generous Gardener growing up the pergola in the old house. Chosen for its lack of thorns (well a few!) and scent. Its name was definitely the clincher though! Love your blog. X

Anita how lovely to hear from you. Caroline here, and I’ll find out more about ‘Malvern Hills’ today from P & G as they’re coming for coffee. I know they bought something else and it turned out to be ‘Malvern Hills’ – a very happy accident! We should definitely have included a ‘best thornless’ category, and thanks to you, we’re gathering some good candidates! Lots of love to you X

A couple of favourites…. first which sells under many names..Sweet Parfum de Provence (Line Renaud) (.Anniversary Rose) a Hybrid tea…repeat flowering…exceedingly strong perfume…and the prettiest pink..
Munstead Wood….and of course good old Gertrude Jekyll …every garden needs a Gertie!

A couple of favourites…. first which sells under many names..Sweet Parfum de Provence (Line Renaud) (.Anniversary Rose) a Hybrid tea…repeat flowering…exceedingly strong perfume…and the prettiest pink..
Munstead Wood….and of course good old Gertrude Jekyll …every garden needs a Gertie!

Angela some great suggestions – definitely going to look for Sweet Parfum de Provence which sounds extremely seductive! You’re so right about Gertie – very few gardens without this venerable and adorable lady, and there’s a good reason for that! With very best wishes to you X

Ah Sue, you’re right there! This is such an interesting rose: bred in France between 1935 and 1939, and reputedly sent out to the US on the last plane before the country was invaded in the Second World War. The name ‘Peace’ was adopted for this cultivar on April 29, 1945, on the very day that Berlin fell. Later that same year Peace roses were given to each of the delegations at the first meeting of the United Nations with a note: ‘We hope the ‘Peace’ rose will influence men’s thoughts for everlasting world peace’. Ha! Still, it’s a beautiful and fragrant rose, and the renowned rose-breeder Peter Beales reckoned it was “the finest Hybrid Tea ever raised”, so who are we to argue with that? Thank you so much for writing in, All the best, Elaine

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