If you're looking for fragrant roses for your garden, consider English roses. They combine old-rose scents of myrrh, spices, and fruit with the wide color range and repeat flowering typical of modern roses.
Some bloom in crimson, golden yellow, or apricot, and others in shades of delicate pink, cream, and soft lilac. Many form double-petalled rosettes as they open, and a few are nearly as large as double peonies. English roses are attractive either in a mixed border or in a rose bed. David Austin, a British horticulturist, developed the English rose, so some call these roses David Austin roses.
Common name: English rose
Botanical name: Rosa cultivars
Plant type: Deciduous shrubs or climber
Height: 4 to 20 feet, depending on cultivar
Zones: 4 to 10, depending on cultivar
Sun: Full sun
Soil: Deep, well-drained, humus-rich, slightly acidic
Moisture: Moderate, deep, and consistent
Mulch: Apply a 2-inch layer of organic mulch to deter weeds and keep soil cool and moist. Leave space between stems and mulch to prevent excess moisture from collecting on stems.
Fertilizer: Apply a balanced fertilizer regularly during the growing season. Stop fertilizing toward the end of the growing season to allow plants to harden off for the winter.
Pruning: In mild climates, prune in late winter. In colder climates, prune when growth begins in early spring. Deadhead spent blooms.
English roses are narrow at the bottom and wide at the top. If you plant them in groups of three about 18 to 24 inches apart in a triangle, they grow into one shrub and deliver an extravagant display of flowers all season. If you plant five together, arrange in a zigzag pattern.
If you plant roses in a mixed border, place them near perennials that don't have aggressive roots-roses don't thrive with lots of competition.
English roses are beautiful, long-lasting cut flowers.
In colder climates, cover stems with 10 inches of mulch in the fall after roses are dormant. In coldest climates, also add waterproof covering over the entire shrub.
While roses tolerate a little shade, they flower best and stay healthiest in full sun.
Avoid overhead watering, which encourages fungal diseases.
Grace (pictured) has apricot flowers, darker in the middle and paler toward the edges. It has excellent fragrance and grows 4 feet tall. Zones 4 to 11.
Eglantyne has soft pink flowers with small petals turning up at the edges to form a shallow saucer. It has a sweet fragrance. In shrub form it grows 4½ feet tall. As a climber it grows 6 feet tall. Zones 4 to 11.
Gertrude Jekyll has medium pink flowers with the quintessential rose fragrance. It grows 4½ feet tall as a shrub and 8 feet tall as a climber. Zones 4 to 11.
Graham Thomas has yellow flowers and a loose, arching growth pattern. It grows 5 feet tall as a shrub and up to 12 feet tall as a climber. It's extremely winter-hardy. Zones 4 to 9.
Pat Austin is copper on the inside and pale copper-yellow on the outer edges. It has a tea-scented fragrance and grows 5 feet tall. Zones 4 to 11.
Snow Goose is a good choice for arches and pergolas. It's a rambler producing bunches of small white blooms with a musk fragrance. It's also nearly thornless and thrives in warmer climates. Zones 4 to 11.
Pests and diseases
When leaf-cutter bees attack roses, the damage is cosmetic and usually won't affect the plant's health.
Powdery mildew covers leaves with a powdery appearance. At the first sign of disease, spray both sides of leaves with sulfur. Repeat every 7 to 10 days, according to label directions. Spraying will not cure existing fungal diseases, but will protect new leaves from becoming infected.
Control aphids as soon as you notice them and before they multiply. Use a strong stream of water from a hose to dislodge them, and check buds, green growth tips, and undersides of leaves. Insecticidal soap is also fairly effective.
(Text by Mary Pestel, photo courtesy of David Austin Roses, www.davidaustinroses.com)