Rose garden design?

lavender_lass(4b)December 21, 2009

I'm just starting to add roses to my garden and I'm wondering how all of you design your garden for your roses. Do you add them to existing spaces with perennials? Do you have the roses by themselves? Are they in linear or curved beds? Do you have grass paths or gravel? Are they edging the lawn?

Thank you for any suggestions and pictures would be wonderful :)

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dublinbay z6 (KS)

I usually mix roses and perennials in curved beds with mostly grass paths (with a couple exceptions). One big bed curves on the west side all the way from the house back to the alley. Another big vaguely oval bed jutts out from the drive-way right into the middle of the back yard. The only place with roses in a straight line is the narrow space on the east between my drive-way and the neighbor's property line.

Basically my beds curve any direction in which the sun shines. I'm running out of sunshiny space, however.


    Bookmark   December 21, 2009 at 6:06PM
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Eleven years ago, I planted just perennials and a couple of small trees (serviceberry and crabapple)in curving borders around the entire perimeter, and have been steadily digging up the grass more and more every year. There are now narrow grass paths between the beds in my small yard, with a pond in the middle. Once the rose addiction started, I just interplanted them with the perennials, and now and then, completely removed plants to make room for my babies. Even though I have ordered 13 more roses for spring, I have no room left and will have to plant them in pots for now. They will decorate the long balcony I have in front, and my deck in the back of the house. Where there's a will, there's a way...

...a photo from spring, just to give you an idea of the size and setup of my yard (roses and clematis are just starting to grow)

...another spring shot, along the side of my house, Therese Bugnet. What you can't see is Louise Odier, and a whole slew of Austins and some clematis planted all the way along that fence right to the entrance gate(4 hours of sun only)

....sorry, the grass really needs cutting!

Believe it or not, there are almost 50 roses packed in this little garden. A lot of them don't get all the sun they would like, I'm sure, but they do alright. At times, it looks like a cottage garden gone mad (I also grow vegetables in containers somewhere in that jungle), but it gives me so much happiness and joy that I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Have fun with planning your own little paradise!


    Bookmark   December 21, 2009 at 8:09PM
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holleygarden Zone 8, East Texas

Judith - I really enjoyed seeing pictures of your garden. One can tell that you love your little spot of paradise.

LL - I think it just depends on what you wish to achieve. I have a bed that is full of perennials, shrubs, and bulbs, and a couple of trees, with roses thrown in. (very little evergreens there) This is on a grass path, although I do have a bed that is gravel. I also have a bed with just a few roses, some lavender and some evergreen shrubs. Then I have a bed with only roses - no other plants there, though I have been thinking of backing it with pyracantha, and fronting it with liriope. My foundation plantings are mostly roses (shrubs and standards) with about 1/2 the plantings evergreen shrubs.

I think it depends on what you want to achieve, how long your winters are, what kind of look you are going for, what the 'purpose' the the bed will be (foundation planting, walk-through path, etc.) Look at pictures that you feel are beautiful and see what plantings are there, and how you can achieve this in your garden.

My plan for this next year is to make a path that feels like you are surrounded by flowers. I plan to achieve that with lots of climbers on arbors, shrub roses, with tall flowering shrubs in the back and short flowering shrubs in the front.

I love the planning stage - good luck with envisioning the perfect garden. :)

    Bookmark   December 21, 2009 at 9:24PM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

lavender lass, sorry I don't have any recent pics, but below you can see the general layout of my small backyard. This (poor quality) pic is a couple years old and was taken right after the big spring bloom -- when many of the roses were resting between cycles, but at least you can see the large curved bed on the west (from back of my house all the way to the back of the property) as well as the vaguely oval bed jutting out from the driveway on the east and into the center of the yard. You will observe one stepping stone path in it--I call it my perfumed path since all the HTs along it are highly fragrant.

View from backdoor:

Below is a view from the rear of the property--that's the large curved bed on the west side again. You can see in the distance the shadier sections where my hydrangeas are planted.

West bed viewed from rear of property:

Since all these pictures are about 2 years old, you can be assured that a lot of plants have been moved around since then. In the last pic, for instance, I now have 3 Molineux planted together as one bigger bush right in the middle of the bed you see there. Unfortunately, I never got around to taking pics of it. (Reminder: take pics this coming summer.)

Small as my backyard is, 63 roses call it home--and that's more than enough to keep me busy! There are other smaller beds along the garage and next to the house foundation, as well as to the east on the other side of the driveway. No pics, however.

Hope that helps.


    Bookmark   December 22, 2009 at 11:25AM
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veilchen(5b southern Maine)

I first started with roses by adding one or two to my perennial garden. By the time I was getting serious about roses and liking them more and more, I decided to totally revamp the perennial garden and keep only plants that I loved, were (preferably, with the exception of delphiniums) low maintenance, and were good companions with roses. I decided on an informal English style with a curving grass path through it. Many perennials were moved to other gardens or given away-they had to meet the criteria of very well-behaved if they were going to mingle with the roses. My extensive collection of daylilies was moved to its own garden, many of their colors clashed with the DAs or OGRs. I do grow mostly DAs and OGRs, so my color scheme is more cool pinks and blues-the only orangish color that fits in is Pat Austin. I have to be careful with the reds unless it's a cool red-not hot red like fire engine red. Bright yellow as in yarrow doesn't work well, but pale yellow Moonbeam coreopsis does.

You can keep what you want if you have room for it, but for me it was a ruthless culling, and every perennial I had that would take room from the roses or cause extra labor was gotten rid of. One thing to remember in the north is that many perennials will dwarf roses by their third year, so you have to be careful with placement and spacing. Even though I thought I was careful, I have already had to move around some tall phlox and siberian iris after only 3 years because they had increased so much and were crowding in on some roses.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2009 at 2:38PM
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Thank you all for the responses. I'm not sure what my plan is yet, except to find a way to bring some color in with the roses, especially the once blooming ones that are nice for four to six weeks and then green shrubs :)

Judith and Kate...great pictures! It really helps to see other peoples' garden designs.

Judith, do your roses and clematis die back in zone 5, or do you trim them back? I've been trying to find cold hardy roses, but I did get a few zone 5 and a few hybrid teas, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they'll make it through the winter :) What kind of roses are in the fourth and fifth pictures? They're very pretty.

Kate, what kind of rose has the pink and yellow coloring in your last picture? It's very nice and is that phlox behind it? Also what are the blue flowers in front?

    Bookmark   December 22, 2009 at 9:48PM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

Lavender, that rose is the HT Love & Peace--a real beauty, but a bit too prone to blackspot for me. I've moved it to a spot with more air circulation and more sun to see it that will help because all the listings I find claim it is disease-resistant. Couldn't prove it by me, and this upcoming season may prove to be its last.

The blue plants you asked about is self-sowing Larkspur. It re-seeds like crazy and I have to do a real balancing act about how much I will allow to bloom and how much to restrict them so that they don't overshadow and negatively affect the roses and other plants around them. Below is pic where I let a lot of it bloom--was quite spectacular and lots of people stopped to admire it, but that much Larkspur inhibited the spring growth of my other plants, so now I thin it out more. The reason the blue plants in the pic are shorter is that as the Larkspur starts going to seed, I prune them back by half so that the other plants have a better chance at catching the sun's rays.

Same west bed, sporting Larkspur:

Below is a more balanced combination of Larkspur and roses (from another part of the gardens):

Hope that helps.


P.S. Forgot your other question: yes, those are phlox growing behind the Love & Peace.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2009 at 9:02AM
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Lavender lass, the roses in the fourth picture are Morden blush on the left, Felicite Parmentier on the right. The fifth picture is of Louise Odier, my favourite, I think.

I only trim the overly-tall roses in the fall to 3 or 4 feet, then mound them and hope for the best. In the spring, end of March or thereabouts, I cut back my type 3 clems to about 12" and tidy up the type 2's; when the forsythia blooms, I then tackle the roses - my HT's and Austin roses I usually have to cut down to a few inches, sometimes not so much, depending on the winter. The HP's, Portlands and Bourbons are pretty hardy here, and so can do with just a good trim usually. The really tough ones (Alba, Gallica and Rugosa) just need a little trim of the dead tips.

Did you protect your HT's, or bury the bud union deeply? If so, they should make it through o.k. with snow cover (if you're lucky enough to have that!)


    Bookmark   December 23, 2009 at 9:02AM
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Kate, your larkspur are beautiful! I've always loved them, but they just don't like my garden. They probably need more room to grow properly than they get in my crowded borders!


    Bookmark   December 23, 2009 at 9:11AM
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karenforroses(z5 NorthernMI)

I mix them with perennials in my border beds and on our East wall, but feature only roses in the long quartered bed in the middle of the lawn. I like the mix of formal and informal.

Central formal bed

More informal border beds

East wall roses

    Bookmark   December 23, 2009 at 9:41AM
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pfzimmerman(6/7 Upstate SC)

What beautiful photos and gardens all of you!!

    Bookmark   December 24, 2009 at 9:29AM
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I am so enjoying the garden photos. The close up rose pictures are lovely and helpful, but the garden shots, Wow! Keep them coming everyone. Lots of good ideas for all of us. Maybe my son will help me learn to post and I can share some from last summer! Thanks everyone. Lesley

    Bookmark   December 24, 2009 at 9:59AM
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Karen, what a beautiful garden!


    Bookmark   December 24, 2009 at 11:21AM
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aimeekitty(9-10, SW 18)

I'm in the same boat as you lately, trying to think about design because I was starting with just a big patch of dirt. I'm totally a newbie.

I'll just repeat some of what I've read and advice people have given me, and maybe it'll help you, too!

especially since your zone is colder than mine, your roses will not be as pretty in the winter, so you might want to consider planting them with evergreen perennials. I'm planting mine with some camellias (winter blooming), irises and lavender, mainly.... and I'm putting an evergreen Lady Banks rose in there, too.

in design, I just looked at a lot of gardening books and a lot of photos of people's gardens online and made a folder of things that made me happy. Most of all, I liked kindof "messy" english cottage style gardens. It's a pleasing style visually to me, and I also know that I'm too busy to deal with a more formal style (even though I like formal visually, too.)

then it came down to deciding where the beds would go and what shape they would be. I limited the amount of grass and have big curving beds. From there I picked some large shrub roses and large climbers for the backs of the beds against the walls,... and then put smaller ones in front. I don't like stuff in lines, so I have them kindof staggered,... and I'm hoping that the stuff in front will just all kinda pile into each other in a pretty way. (maybe I'll regret this later when it comes time to prune. haha.)

You can probably eliminate a lot of roses just by trying to find ones that (a) you like the look of (b) do well in your zone (c) have the qualities you like (ie do you prefer mostly thornless, do you want an old rose, do you want a cutting rose, do you want fragrant, etc...)

some people said that you should avoid putting really thirsty or heavy rooting plants too near your roses, that they might choke them out.

there are a lot of roses too that are really low maintenance that you could work into your existing flower beds probably... so I guess it's up to you what style you like best! Plenty of people have whole beds of roses and just roses because that's what they like!
Good luck deciding!

    Bookmark   December 30, 2009 at 8:10PM
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aimeekitty(9-10, SW 18)

Here's some of my faves, none of these are mine.

Rose Garden of mendocino_rose

from some gardening book I forgot:


    Bookmark   December 30, 2009 at 8:19PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Thanks for all of the spectacular garden shots. It's the hardest thing to do- make your garden flow with billows of flowers like this!

I love the grass paths.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2009 at 2:14AM
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