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Rosa ‘Dortmund'. This rose produces large, red flowers with a conspicuous white eye in succession throughout the summer – they are so big it takes only a few to make an impression. It can be grown as a climber or shrub – at Malverleys we are growing it through a golden yew. 3m. AGM*. RHS H7, USDA 5a-9b†.

Single roses: choosing and growing the best single roses for your garden

The modest blooms of single-flowered roses have a simplicity and perfection all of their own, as well as being easy to maintain and accessible to pollinators. Words Matthew Reese. Photographs Jason Ingram.

Plant Profile

What Woody perennials from the Rosa genus in the Rosaceae family. Some are shrubs, some are climbers or ramblers. Those featured here are single-flowered. Origins All roses originally had a single-flowered parentage, and are found across the northern temperate and subtropical world. Season From late spring into autumn. Size Many of the hybrid roses make plants around 1m tall, shrub roses can reach 2-3m. The climbing and rambling fraternity will grow 2m upwards. With these it’s worth making sure the host – whether it be a tree or wall – is strong enough to cope with the marriage as some of the most vigorous ramblers will easily reach 8m. Conditions Although roses do well on most sites, where feasible, providing shelter will help protect the flowers and foliage from possible wind damage. There is a rose for every soil, and most do well in heavy clay once established. The rugosas can cope with exceptionally light soils. Hardiness Generally hardy in most parts of the UK. Most have a hardiness rating of RHS H5-H6 and are suitable for gardens in USDA zones 5a to 9b. The China roses grow best in a warm, sheltered site.

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Scilla greilhuberi. S. greilhuberi comes from the Caspian forests in Iran and prefers slightly shaded conditions and moist soil in cultivation to support its lush leaves. Taller than most with nodding flowers, it suggests a relaxed bluebell. 20cm. RHS H6.
© Jason Ingram

Cultivating single roses

Cultivation In the right conditions, roses can be very long-lived plants, and can even become coveted heirlooms, passed from one generation of gardener to the next. When planting a new rose, it is important to remember that it needs a chance to find its feet. Plants will often take a few years to build up a good foundation of roots before they show signs of vigour above ground and begin producing quantities of new wood and flower.

When to plant single roses

Roses are normally purchased in winter, dormant and bareroot, or at any time of the year as a container plant (although an early winter planting is best for all but the most tender types). It is vital when planting to add compost to the planting hole and mix it properly with the surrounding soil. Make the hole ample enough to sensibly accommodate the roots without having to bend them to position the plant at proper depth. Soil should be firmed around the roots so the plant does not rock or sit too wet. During this formative period, it is important the rose is given space to breath and is not swamped by neighbouring plants. Once established, the strong, forked rose roots are extremely competitive against those of other plants.

Where to plant single roses

It is much nicer to grow roses in a mixed border, rather than corralled into a bed with their own kind where diseases can spread like wildfire. Roses are often quite shapeless plants, and allowing them the support from a surrounding sea of herbaceous plants is much kinder. Most of the growth is concentrated on the upper part of the plant, leaving bare legs towards the base, but this can be disguised by planting roses with perennials, such as geraniums or phlox. Rose roots tend to descend quickly and deeply and are not particularly spreading, making them ideal bedfellows for shallow-rooting perennials.

The best single roses for your garden

1

Rosa ‘Dortmund’

Rosa ‘Dortmund'. This rose produces large, red flowers with a conspicuous white eye in succession throughout the summer – they are so big it takes only a few to make an impression. It can be grown as a climber or shrub – at Malverleys we are growing it through a golden yew. 3m. AGM*. RHS H7, USDA 5a-9b†.

This rose produces large, red flowers with a conspicuous white eye in succession throughout the summer – they are so big it takes only a few to make an impression. It can be grown as a climber or shrub – at Malverleys we are growing it through a golden yew. 3m. AGM*. RHS H7, USDA 5a-9b†.

2

Rosa ‘Geranium’

Rosa ‘Geranium’. This R. moyesii hybrid makes a large shrub with catchy, red flowers that have a central, green-eyed, gold stamen boss. Blooms appear in early summer on arching stems, followed by decorative, flask-shaped, orange-red hips. Remove old-flowered wood in late winter to maintain vigour. 2.5m. AGM. RHS H6.

This R. moyesii hybrid makes a large shrub with catchy, red flowers that have a central, green-eyed, gold stamen boss. Blooms appear in early summer on arching stems, followed by decorative, flask-shaped, orange-red hips. Remove old-flowered wood in late winter to maintain vigour. 2.5m. AGM. RHS H6.

3

Rosa For Your Eyes Only (= ‘Cheweyesup’)

Rosa For Your Eyes Only (= ‘Cheweyesup’). Derived from the unusual Rosa persica, which is a native of central Asia, this hybrid has proven to be a successful, easy-to-grow garden shrub. The striking flowers have a dark, central, claret blotch bleeding into the pink petals, and it will flower all summer. 1.2m. RHS H6.

Derived from the unusual Rosa persica, which is a native of central Asia, this hybrid has proven to be a successful, easy-to-grow garden shrub. The striking flowers have a dark, central, claret blotch bleeding into the pink petals, and it will flower all summer. 1.2m. RHS H6.

4

Rosa ‘Meg’

Rosa ‘Meg’. A charming climber with large, flat, semi-double flowers in flamingo pink, each bloom with an apricot-yellow eye and conspicuous red stamens. Scented flowers in June are followed by large, fat, dark-ginger hips that persist all winter. Good for cutting, but prone to blackspot. 3m. RHS H5.

A charming climber with large, flat, semi-double flowers in flamingo pink, each bloom with an apricot-yellow eye and conspicuous red stamens. Scented flowers in June are followed by large, fat, dark-ginger hips that persist all winter. Good for cutting, but prone to blackspot. 3m. RHS H5.

5

Rosa ‘Francis E Lester’

Rosa ‘Francis E Lester’. A beautiful, climbing, hybrid musk rose that flowers in early summer. It produces large trusses of scented, overlapping, pale-pink flowers with showy yellow stamens. Flowers fade to white with age. It is good for cutting and makes small orange hips in winter. 4-5m. AGM. RHS H6.

A beautiful, climbing, hybrid musk rose that flowers in early summer. It produces large trusses of scented, overlapping, pale-pink flowers with showy yellow stamens. Flowers fade to white with age. It is good for cutting and makes small orange hips in winter. 4-5m. AGM. RHS H6.

 

6

Rosa Summer Breeze (= ‘Korelasting’)

Rosa Summer Breeze (= ‘Korelasting’). An easy-to-grow rose that throws hot-pink, medium-sized flowers all summer atop a foil of apple-green foliage. It can be trained against a wall or grown up through a small tree. Prune the oldest wood in late winter to encourage vigour. 4m. RHS H6.

An easy-to-grow rose that throws hot-pink, medium-sized flowers all summer atop a foil of apple-green foliage. It can be trained against a wall or grown up through a small tree. Prune the oldest wood in late winter to encourage vigour. 4m. RHS H6.

7

Rosa x odorata ‘Mutabilis’

Rosa x odorata ‘Mutabilis’. This hard-working China rose, if deadheaded, will flower from spring into late autumn (throughout winter in mild locations). It produces peach-yellow flowers from sharp-pink buds, ageing to a dirty pink. The colours intensify in hot weather. 2.5m+. AGM. RHS H5, USDA 6a-9b.

This hard-working China rose, if deadheaded, will flower from spring into late autumn (throughout winter in mild locations). It produces peach-yellow flowers from sharp-pink buds, ageing to a dirty pink. The colours intensify in hot weather. 2.5m+. AGM. RHS H5, USDA 6a-9b.

8

Rosa ‘Sally Holmes’

Rosa ‘Sally Holmes’. A large, free-flowering shrub that produces sumptuous panicles of blush-white flowers all summer. Deadheading will speed up repeat flowering and keep the display tidy. Generally trouble free, and with little scent – more a feast for the eyes than the nose. 2m. AGM. RHS H6.

A large, free-flowering shrub that produces sumptuous panicles of blush-white flowers all summer. Deadheading will speed up repeat flowering and keep the display tidy. Generally trouble free, and with little scent – more a feast for the eyes than the nose. 2m. AGM. RHS H6.

9

Rosa ‘Mrs Oakley Fisher’

Rosa ‘Mrs Oakley Fisher’. A decades-old specimen at Great Dixter was given to Christopher Lloyd by Vita Sackville-West. It survived the cull when the former rose garden there was transformed into the Exotic Garden. It is a hybrid tea rose, with dark foliage that sets off upturned, apricot flowers. 1.5m. RHS H6.

A decades-old specimen at Great Dixter was given to Christopher Lloyd by Vita Sackville-West. It survived the cull when the former rose garden there was transformed into the Exotic Garden. It is a hybrid tea rose, with dark foliage that sets off upturned, apricot flowers. 1.5m. RHS H6.

10

Rosa ‘Helen Knight’

Rosa ‘Helen Knight’. This pretty and vigorous R. ecae hybrid rose makes a substantial, prickly shrub with delicate, pinnate foliage. The gleaming, shyly scented, canary-yellow blooms are held in small clusters and are produced along with the new apple-green foliage. 2.5m. RHS H6.

This pretty and vigorous R. ecae hybrid rose makes a substantial, prickly shrub with delicate, pinnate foliage. The gleaming, shyly scented, canary-yellow blooms are held in small clusters and are produced along with the new apple-green foliage. 2.5m. RHS H6.

11

Rosa Kew Gardens (= ‘Ausfence’)

Rosa Kew Gardens (= ‘Ausfence’). A well-behaved shrub rose that holds its flowers in small, neat clusters just proud of the foliage. Flowers open a clotted-cream colour, with a central fuzz of golden stamens, and fade to pure white. Will bloom all summer. 1.2m. AGM. RHS H6.

A well-behaved shrub rose that holds its flowers in small, neat clusters just proud of the foliage. Flowers open a clotted-cream colour, with a central fuzz of golden stamens, and fade to pure white. Will bloom all summer. 1.2m. AGM. RHS H6.

12

Rosa Jacqueline du Pré (= ‘Harwanna’)

Rosa Jacqueline du Pré (= ‘Harwanna’). Named for the famous cellist, this rose produces clear-white, semi-double, scented flowers on strong, prickly stems. At the centre of each bloom is a cluster of delicate-pink filaments and gold anthers that stand out against the white petals. 1.5m. AGM. RHS H6.

Named for the famous cellist, this rose produces clear-white, semi-double, scented flowers on strong, prickly stems. At the centre of each bloom is a cluster of delicate-pink filaments and gold anthers that stand out against the white petals. 1.5m. AGM. RHS H6.

13

Rosa The Compass Rose (= ‘Korwisco’)

Rosa The Compass Rose (= ‘Korwisco’). This shrub rose makes an initial flush of white, wavy-petalled flowers in midsummer. The blooms have a rich, spicy scent and are held in loose trusses. If deadheaded, it will continue to flower intermittently into the autumn. 1.2m. RHS H6.

This shrub rose makes an initial flush of white, wavy-petalled flowers in midsummer. The blooms have a rich, spicy scent and are held in loose trusses. If deadheaded, it will continue to flower intermittently into the autumn. 1.2m. RHS H6.