Gardens Illustrated

Tips for combining perennials and roses

Published: June 28, 2017 at 10:20 am

The Rose Labyrinth in the Walled Garden at Coughton Court in Warwickshire, cleverly combines roses and perennials. Here we take a closer look at the plant combinations.

The Rose Labyrinth at Coughton Court in Warwickshire was a gift from garden designer Christina Williams to her mother, current tenant of the estate, Clare McLaren-Throckmorton. Part of a series of garden rooms in the Walled Garden, the Labyrinth's winding paths snake around more than 250 different roses – shrubs, climbers, ramblers – all cleverly interplanted with perennials. On sunny days, their perfumes are trapped within the walls. Here is a closer look at Christina's choice of plants.


Combining perennials and roses

Pair roses with perennial spires
Purple spires of Salvia x superba combine with the red Scabiosa atropurpurea and the delicate flowers of Astrantia major ‘Claret’ and A. ‘Roma’ in shades of pink that reflect the stripes of Rosa gallica ‘Versicolor’. Other successful partnerships are the white-spired Chamaenerion angustifolium ‘Album’ with the pink R. Gertrude Jekyll (= ‘Ausbord’) and rich-purple R. ‘William Lobb’, or the cream and yellow-flowered R. ‘Golden Wings’ with Nepeta govanianaIris ‘Dreaming Yellow’ and Centranthus ruber ‘Albus’. She also likes to pair the white spires and maroon foliage of Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ with rose foliage.

Foxgloves of all kinds are welcome in the rose garden
Digitalis purpurea ‘Sutton’s Apricot’ dances with white roses with style, while the white and purple D. purpurea ‘Pam’s Choice’, works well with dark-red roses, such as ‘Tuscany Superb’, ‘Madame Isaac Péreire’ or the striped ‘Ferdinand Pichard’. Christina also partners the small and slender, yellow-flowered foxglove Dlutea with yellow and white roses, such as Wollerton Old Hall (= ‘Ausblanket’) or ‘Boule de Neige’.


Grey foliage is a winner with all roses
Christina mainly uses the silvery Santolina pinnata subsp. neapolitana ‘Edward Bowles’, Artemisia ludoviciana ‘Valerie Finnis’ and Stachys byzantina.


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