sarah's favourite rose colour palettes

Watch as Sarah discusses her favourite rose colour palettes and rose varieties.

When I first made the garden at Perch Hill I hardly put any roses in at all, and that’s because I was really worried about the whole problem of fungal diseases on them, blackspot and mildew, and I just wasn’t prepared to spray, so I just avoided them. But since our Head Gardener Josie Lewis arrived she really encouraged me to trial lots of roses and to find which have the best disease resistance, particularly underplanted with salvias which is what we do here which helps keep them relatively more disease free, and so over the years I’ve built up some real favourites and I just want to talk you through which they are and why just briefly.

rich & brilliant

I always start with the rich and brilliant palette because for me, that’s my sort of heart territory, those are the sort of colours that I just feel physically drawn to, and the roses in that pallet that I’m really, incredibly devoted to are ‘Tuscany Superb’, it’s hard to beat. It sadly only flowers once but it does so for a long time, so it’s still worth it, fantastic scent, wonderful velvety texture, beautiful golden anthers, and it’s quite healthy, so for me it’s kind of one of the first ones that I put into the garden here.

And then Rose 'De Rêscht' is another one that just, it isn’t prolific flowering but it flowers for ages and it’s a very old rose actually, beautiful scent, little, small flowers, and really compact so it’s ideal for a small garden. Rose 'De Rêscht' is really fantastic even if you have very little space. And then for a climber in this rich palette I love ‘Guinee’ which is this one here, wonderful scent, wonderful rich texture, lovely climbing up particularly the brick wall here I adore it.

And then two that if you’d shown me a few years ago I’m not sure I would have loved quite so much, but now they’re definitely in my top 10 roses. This one’s called ‘Hot Chocolate’ and its outer petals are chocolatey but it’s this really strange, extraordinary kind of coppery colouring, exceptionally long flowering, really flowers for ever and ever, and has a good scent. And then this one which is the longest flowering rose in the garden here of all which is ‘Cinco de Mayo’, and I actually love its flowers as they go over, they go this slightly mauvey, weird colour, but I love it and it flowers from May until November or even December when we’re pruning it back.

soft & warm

So that’s my first, absolutely sort of heart rose collection in a way. Then the next palette which for me is sort of my next favourite is what I call the soft and warm palette of roses, and these are what I think of as cashmere jersey roses, these are comforting, they’re lovely, they’re sort of like a warm bath, they’re just sort of not challenging but just beautiful, and definitely tip top in that lot is rose ‘Mutabilis’ which means ‘changing’ and it has these beautiful crimson flowers with apricot on the same plant.

And then fabulously perfumed is ‘La Belle Epoque’ and it’s got the most incredible fragrance, it’s got these apricot flowers with the red petal reverse, and just the scent in the corner where that is, it’s just swoon-worthy, it’s amazing and it flowers until November. And then quite an unusual rose in a way, but very trendy at the moment is this one called the ‘Julia’s Rose’ which is the colour of very milky coffee like a latte. And that’s very spiny, but it’s also very good for picking, that’s the only downside to it, but I love it. And then another superbly long-flowering one is this, called ‘The Simple Life’, and it just looks like the simple life, it looks like a dog rose but it flowers for ages. So those are my warm contingent.

cooler palettes

And then in the cooler palette, so basically the whites or the mauvey-blues, my two favourites by far are ‘Little White Pet’; this again unbelievably long-flowering I mean I’ve picked these for a bridal bouquet in November, they’re just amazing and they are covered in flower from May, all the way through until November, and the rose behind me that we have all the way around the lawn here is one of the rugosas, so super healthy, super long-flowering, makes good hips if you don’t deadhead it, if you deadhead it it keeps flowering longer obviously, and that’s called ‘Blanche Double de Coubert’ so it’s a French variety, super healthy foliage so you can almost grow that like a hedge like we have here.

foliage & rosehips

I cannot not mention these two, large roses which I grow really more for their foliage and their hips than perhaps for their flowers. This one is Rosa moyesii ‘Geranium’, which has lovely sort of pinkish, corally flowers but then these bright orange cask shaped hips all the way through the autumn and this lovely healthy foliage. And finally one I use a lot for picking which is Rosa ‘Rubrifolia Glauca’ or ‘glauca’, or sometimes it’s Rosa glauca ‘rubrifolia’, the other way round and this also has beautiful hips contrast between again corally silvery foliage is what makes it a winner rather than very pretty but simple single dog rose flowers.

So these would be my current desert island roses, but it changes every day.

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