Six on Saturday – Climbing Roses

A few weeks ago I had pleasure in illustrating a number of the Rambling Roses that were doing particularly well this year. This time it is the turn of the climbing roses.

In general the climbing roses tend to be less vigorous and are usually more likely to be repeat flowering than the ramblers.

Choosing just six has been difficult but here is my selection for this week.

One: Compassion

Rose 'Compassion'
Rose ‘Compassion’

Two: Constance Spry

P1010640 Constance Spry (C)
Rose’ Constance Spry’ with Foxglose ‘Elsey Kelsey’ in the foreground

Three: Arthur Bell

Rose 'Arthur Bell'
Rose ‘Arthur Bell’

Four: Madame Alfred Carrière


Five: Sombreuil

Rose 'Sombreuil' growing alongside Rose 'Constance Spry'
Rose ‘Sombreuil’ (foreground) growing alongside Rose ‘Constance Spry’ in the old rose garden

Six: Mermaid

Rose 'Mermaid'
Rose ‘Mermaid’

The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to see what other plant lovers are chatting about.

Honey Pot Flowers are wedding and celebration florists based in Warwickshire in the United Kingdom specialising in natural, locally grown seasonal flowers. We grow many of our own flowers allowing us to offer something very different and uniquely personal.


The new rose garden begins to flower – very exciting!

When we started this blog last September we described our dreams and plans to create a beautiful new flower garden.  Our intention was to move away from a cut garden focused purely on growing cut flowers for sale in regimented straight beds to a more aesthetically pleasing space, still a cutting garden but somewhere that you want to stop, sit and enjoy.

During the winter we spent many hours preparing the ground and setting out the new layout, planting the new formal hedging and building the new rose arches.  In March we started to plant out all the new roses we had spent many happy hours choosing from the catalogues.

Despite all the challenges with the weather during the long cold, wet winter and now the heat and drought of mid-summer, the new roses are developing wonderfully.  Behind the new short clipped hedge we have planted a selection of pink and white roses ranging from deep dusky pink through mid-pink to pure white.  All have been chosen for their scent, repeat flowering and suitability for cutting.

All four varieties have been flowering for some weeks now and with regular dead heading are continuing to repeat flower.  The foliage seems to be disease free so far.

Here are the four varieties we have planted in this area:

Rose "Sweet Parfum de Provence"
Rose “Sweet Parfum de Provence”
Rose "Prince Jardinier"
Rose “Prince Jardinier”
Rose "A Whiter Shade of Pale"
Rose “A Whiter Shade of Pale”
Rose "White Perfumella"
Rose “White Perfumella”

We have written previously about our plans for enhancing the garden in the evenings with white blooms that shine out in the dusk and with scent that hangs in the air ( Zaluzianskya – Twilight Scent ).  These light coloured blooms have been introduced as part of these plans with the aim of illuminating the walk around the garden at dusk.

Honey Pot Flowers are wedding and celebration florists based in Warwickshire in the United Kingdom specialising in natural, locally grown seasonal flowers. We grow many of our own flowers allowing us to offer something very different and uniquely personal.



Six on Saturday – Rambling Roses

The weather this year has certainly suited the roses.  The lack of rain has meant that the flowers have lasted well.  Roses are notorious for petal damage and mummification of unopened buds if there is too much rain.

I have been rather spoilt for choice in selecting this week’s Six on Saturday roses from the garden so have limited my choice to “Rambling” roses this week  (There is a strong possibility that it might be the “climbers” next week!).   I have to say that I am not always that clear on whether a rose is a”rambler” or a “climber” so have turned to the David Austin roses catalogue as reference.

According to David Austin Roses, climbers generally have larger blooms and are not as vigorous as ramblers.  Whereas most climbers repeat flower most ramblers do not.  However, as with everything there are exceptions to the rule!

Here are my six for this week:

One:  Paul’s Himalayan Musk

Paul's Himalayan Musk (Rambling Rose) amongst the purple Berberis foliage
Paul’s Himalayan Musk (Rambling Rose) amongst the purple Berberis foliage

Two:  Emily Gray

Emily Gray (Rambling rose)
Emily Gray (Rambling rose)

Three:  Veilchenblau (growing with Seagull)

Veilchenblau (blue/purple) and Seagull (white) - both rambling roses
Veilchenblau (blue/purple) and Seagull (white) – both rambling roses

Four:   Francis E. Lester

Francis E. Lester (Rambling Rose)
Francis E. Lester (Rambling Rose)

Five:  Little Rambler

Little Rambler
Little Rambler

Six:  American Pillar

P1010713 American Pillar (R)
American Pillar (Rambling Rose)

The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to see what other plant lovers are chatting about.

Honey Pot Flowers are wedding and celebration florists based in Warwickshire in the United Kingdom specialising in natural, locally grown seasonal flowers. We grow many of our own flowers allowing us to offer something very different and uniquely personal.

The garden in late January

The garden here at Honey Pot Flowers may appear cold and quiet but the new year is coming upon us quickly and there is plenty to do and much to see.

Despite the low temperatures here in Warwickshire, bulbs and flowers are beginning to emerge.  The snowdrops are now in full swing complemented by the pinks and purples of the cyclamen and hellebores.  The first of the primroses and yellow crocuses are beginning to flower and the air is filled with the scent of Daphne odora and Sarcococca.  And, what is more, the sun has started to shine!

Galanthus elwessii
Galanthus elwessii
Cyclamen coum
Cyclamen coum

The garden birds are extremely busy foraging for food across the garden.  Great Tits, Blue Tits, Coal Tits, Long-tailed Tits, Nuthatchs, Chaffinchs, Dunnocks, Blackbirds and Great Spotted Woodpeckers are all regular visitors to the garden now with Buzzards mewing and flying overhead trying to catch any weak thermals that might come their way.


With time marching on we are also trying to get all our pruning jobs completed before we get into seed sowing in earnest.  A few days bright and dry weather has allowed us to start pruning back the bush and climbing roses.  Ideally the climbing roses should have been done in November but better late than never!  With the climbers we are untying all last years growth, cutting out some of the old stems to shoot afresh this year, cutting off the side shoots to a couple of buds and then tying in three or four strong new stems to flower this year.  In March we will give them a good feed to set them on their way.

Helleborus orientalis
Helleborus orientalis

In the orchard we are also starting to prune the apple and pear trees.  There are three main tasks to perform here on each spur fruiting tree:

  • remove any dead or diseased branches
  • improve and open up the structure of the tree by removing crossing or unwanted branches (this also increases air flow and helps minimise issues with disease)
  • prune back any of the new leaf shoots from last year to three or four buds leaving the flower buds on the spurs to develop.

With partial tip bearing trees, such as the Bramley, remember that some of the flower buds are on the end of the stem and removing these when pruning will obviously reduce your crop.  The wood, or growth buds are much smaller than the flower buds that will eventually provide you with your fruit.

Winter pruning underway in the orchard
Winter pruning underway in the orchard

One thing to remember when pruning fruit trees is that if you prune hard the tree will grow back vigorously producing a rash of long ‘water’ shoots.  This will make pruning next year much more difficult.  Ideally you need to achieve a balance, just enough pruning to improve the health and structure of the tree and encourage the tree to put effort into fruiting and not too much that the tree produces excessive vegetative growth.

It really is such a pleasure to be out in the garden again at the start of a new gardening year.  There is much to do and seed sowing is just around the corner.


New additions to our garden of Roses

I think it is fair to say that we already have a large number of roses throughout the garden – but there is always room for more!  With the redesign of the cutting garden we are taking the opportunity to include a range of new fragrant varieties that we don’t currently have.

We have over 70 new bare rooted roses to plant.  Clearly they are not yet in flower but we thought it would be nice to wet your appetite with pictures of what is to come.

For the new cutting garden beds

Rose “Sweet Parfum de Provence” (syn. Rosa ‘Line Renaud’)

Line Renaud by Patrick Velasco

By Patrick Velasco (Line Renaud) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Rose “Fragrant Delight”

Rose, Fragrant Delight, バラ, フラグラント ディライト, (14333667298)

By T.Kiya from Japan (Rose, Fragrant Delight, バラ, フラグラント ディライト,) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Rose “Prince Jardinier”

Prince Jardinier by Karl Gercens

By Karl Gercens (Rosa ‘Prince Jardinier’ (2)) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Rose “A Whiter Shade of Pale”

Rosa 'A Whiter Shade of Pale'

By Arashiyama (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Rose ‘White Perfumella’

Rose White Perfumella

By Style Roses – live image feed from 

For the new rose arches in the cutting garden

Rose ‘Rambling Rosie’
Rose Rambling Rosie

By David Austin Roses – live image feed from 

Rose ‘Blush Rambler’

Rosa Blush Rambler2UME

By Ulf Eliasson epibase (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY 2.5 (, via Wikimedia Commons

For the terraced garden at the front of the house

Rose ‘Scented carpets’

Rose Scented Carpets

By David Austin Roses – live image feed from 

Additions to the existing garden

Rose “Absolutely fabulous”

Rosa 'Absolutely Fabulous' IMG 4413

By Captain-tucker (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Rosa ‘Virginia McKenna’

Rose Virginia McKenna

By Notcutts – live image feed from

Rose “Fellowship”

Rosa 'Fellowship' J1

By Jamain (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Planting roses: To bury or not to bury (the union) that is the question!

It is the time of year for planting bare root roses and I have noticed recently that there seem to be a range of views and opinions on how deep bare root and potted roses should be planted.  Some argue that when planting roses the union, the point where the scion is grafted onto the rootstock, should be above ground whilst others indicate that best practice is to bury the union below ground.   As I am just about to plant a large number for bare root roses I thought it was timely to see if there is any consensus on this issue and perhaps try and understand what is behind the various recommendations.

Commercial growers rapidly multiply up their stock by grafting a named rose variety (the scion) onto a vigorous rootstock rose.  The point at which the two are grafted together is the graft union.   Commercial growers take this approach as it allows them to create a large number of roses very rapidly from a small amount of plant material as the scion can be as small as a single bud.

However, when planting bare root or potted roses should you leave the union above ground or bury it below the surface?

Both David Austin Roses and Peter Beales Roses indicate that the rose should be planted so that the union is below the soil surface (about 1 inch below).  Similarly, Monty Don on Gardeners’ World recommends that the union is planted below the ground.  He argues that this is to reduce the growth of suckers from the vigorous rootstock thus preventing them sapping the energy from the variety rose you actually want to encourage.  He also plants this way to reduce root rock.  The FineGardening website similarly argues that the union should always be buried to minimise root rock and indicates that the additional buried canes will help secure the plant and reduce potential damage to small roots by the wind.

The American Rose Society offers an interesting discussion on this topic.  In addition to the issues of suckering and wind rock mentioned above, burying the union may encourage the scion to create its own roots and it is argued that for some varieties own-root roses may in fact be healthier and more vigorous in the longer term producing more canes.  The article argues that if you prefer not to deal with stakes or maintaining the graft then you should consider burying the graft.

Conversely the American Rose Society article also cites reasons for not burying the union suggesting that a rose growing purely on its grafted rootstock will produce larger blooms.  It also indicates that some varieties do not perform well on their own roots.

The Royal Horticultural Society seem to offer different views in different publications.  On the RHS website the recommendation is to “ensure the union is at soil level” and that planting below soil level increases the risk of rose dieback.   However our copies of other RHS publications (RHS Encyclopedia of Gardening (ISBN 0-86318-979-2) and RHS Plant Guide to Roses (ISBN 0-7513-0269-4)) advocate planting the union 1 inch below soil level.

My conclusion therefore is that this is not a black and white issue and there appear to be a variety of reasons (or opinions) why you should or should not bury the union when planting roses.  The right approach may in fact differ depending on your growing conditions and the varieties you wish to grow.  “You pays your money and you takes your choice” as they say and it is really up to you which authority you feel you wish to follow.

For us I think we have good reason to continue to follow our current practice of burying the union when planting our roses.  It has certainly worked well for us over the years in our growing conditions and is recommended by the big suppliers we buy most of our roses from.  As with many gardening topics I am sure the debate will continue.



Madame Alfred Carrière – our damsel in distress

Our large Madame Alfred Carrière rose is at least 15 years old and may be approaching 20.  It is a truly beautiful rose with large white flowers with a blush of pink and a sweet delicious fragrance.  It is a repeat flowering rose starting in June with a tremendous flush of flowers and continuing throughout the summer until October if the weather is kind.

Popular since Victorian times, Madame Alfred Carrière is a rose from the Noisette group which have virtually thornless stems and fragrant double flowers.  It seems to be very healthy and copes very well with its exposed location with virtually no protection from south-westerly winds.

Originally we planted this rose to climb up a pink cherry tree and provide a continuity of flowers after the spring cherry blossom had faded.  The cherry tree is alas long gone having died and rotted away.  We so love the Madame Alfred Carrière that we really wanted to find a way of allowing it to continue even though its support had gone.

The rose now grows up within a metal frame and its long arching branches cascade from the top.  However, this climber certainly grows strongly each year and the metal tubular frame is really not man enough for the job.  To help provide greater strength we have placed a large chestnut stake in the centre to give it greater strength and depth into the soil.

When in full leaf the structure has to carry a huge weight and the winds in late October have taken their toll.


Left to its own devices I think it would not have lasted the winter in this exposed part of the garden.  Drastic action therefore had to be taken to release the weight of the top foliage and straighten up the metal frame.


It doesn’t look pretty I admit but this severe pruning is really the only way to give it a chance over winter.  From experience it is a really tough plant and has bounced back in previous years.  Next spring new fresh shoots will emerge and in no time it will be growing strongly again with bright green, clean foliage.

Madame Alfred Carrière is a wonderful garden rose and a much admired treasure in the here at Waverley.  We don’t find it a useful cut flower because it drops its petals too quickly and has flimsy stems but it would make good petal confetti.