Seriously tough roses….

It’s pouring with rain outside. Which is good, as we need it. But, these are the moments when you long for some of the summer stalwarts to shake a leg. They are, of course, under the ground. Impatience. The gardener’s curse.

I thought I would share with you some of the roses that I grow and which have survived beautifully on my regime of neglect and forgetfulness. Neglect, in that I rarely remember to give them a Spring feed, and forgetfulness in that I am always behind myself with Spring pruning. In fact, this year is the first year when I have done both, moreorless on time. I do have a resistance to time-specific garden jobs, it’s something to do with the notion that ‘Someone Else’ has deemed it so, and I resist. Like the few moments on ‘Gardener’s World’ when Monty Don says cheerily, ‘…and here are some jobs you can be getting on with in the garden this weekend’. I immediately think, ‘No…doing something else, you watch me’.

Rosa Reine Marguerite d'Italie July 2014
Rosa Reine Marguerite d’Italie July 2014

So here is my first’ tough rose’. Rosa Reine Marguerite d’Italie is my out-and-out winner. I was at the lovely rose nursery, La Roseraie du Desert, run by Becky Hook in the Gers about five years ago, just after we had manhandled tons of river rocks and rubbish out of the site of a collapsed barn which we were turning into the ‘New Garden’. A very euphemistic term at the time! So I was looking for a rose that would flower all summer, be scented, cope with quite a lot of shade and exist in slightly souped up not-very-good-soil with rocks.  A pretty tall order. Becky Hook sold me this rose, and here it is. A good metre plus all round, and it does exactly what I asked with no complaint. Gorgeous old fashioned big roses that don’t flop or go flabby in a beautiful dark magenta, which actually never looks as good in a photograph. Brilliant.

Cuisse de Nymphe, July 2014
Cuisse de Nymphe, July 2014

And my next contender is…Rosa alba Cuisse de Nymphe or in English, ‘Great Maiden’s Blush’, is another stalwart. When we arrived 11 years ago, a small one had already been planted. Now, it can reach 2m x 2m and it blooms on and off in flushes over the summer, great clusters of delicate pink roses in swags, and is a delight. I don’t have the best nose, and I am not sure that it has a particularly good scent, although Peter Beales, the great roseman who sadly died in 2013, calls it highly scented! How embarassing! But for performance and no botheration, it is a really good rose.

Rosa 'Kiftsgate' June 2014
Rosa ‘Kiftsgate’ June 2014

Rosa filipes ‘Kiftsgate’ is a stunner, but what a thug. Give yourself armourplated cover to deal with it, and a massive space where it can do what it wants, and even then, you will be lopping it. But, for 2-3 weeks in June, it is a magnificent sight. It is currently strangling the unknown red rose, and so we do attempt rescue every now and then. I regard it as a lovable giant.

Unknown old rose May 2014
Unknown old rose May 2014

A rainy day job sometime for me is to identify this lovely old rose which blooms just beyond the back door next to the kitchen windows. It is no oil painting, long, lanky and very thorny, but the flowers are just gorgeous, shades of pink, cream and yellow and the scent even reaches my nose, rich and heady as it is.

The rain has stopped. Perfect timing.