For many hobby gardeners, a blooming rose garden is the most beautiful thing that garden culture has to offer. Here you can read how to design a garden in a stylish way that is all about the rose.
A rose garden for all the senses
What would a garden be without it? For centuries, the rose has been the most popular and certainly the most multifaceted garden flower in the world – and has shaped its own garden style with the rose garden. Filled flowers in fine pastel colors spread nostalgic charm and often an intense fragrance, unfilled rose hip roses cheerful naturalness, strongly colored precious roses give the garden something royal, lush rambler roses romantic wildness. Since modern breeds have made the rose robust and persistent, you no longer have to be an expert to design a small or large rose garden yourself. Whether bed rose, shrub or climbing rose, whether English rose or wild rose, there is something for everyone among the old and new rose varieties.
The garden style
Planning for the rose garden also begins with a design scheme that is as uniform and harmonious as possible, which is first put down on paper as a sketch. The design style of the new rose garden can be based on classic models, but can also be very modern or close to nature. An important decision in creative design is whether you want the paths and beds to be angular and geometric, or rather organic and natural.
The arrangement of the forms in relation to one another is subject to a strict system in the geometric garden: they are mirrored, symmetrically arranged to one another or run along a central axis. Ornamental patterns are also very popular in this style. The rose garden has a clearly structured and clear structure. Castle gardens from the Renaissance and Baroque period are known for this garden style. In the rose garden, these shapes can be easily implemented with garden roses or small shrub roses as well as edging hedges and ground cover.
This contrasts with the natural pictorial garden style. But here, too, a well thought-out design is required. As in painting, a composition of form and color is created in the near-natural rose garden. Light and shadow areas play an equally important role, as do different heights and growth forms of the roses. The model of this style is the untouched nature, which nevertheless does not appear overgrown – comparable to the design of English landscape parks. In the near-natural rose garden, climbing roses on rose arches, the wildly romantic growth form of the Rambler and cascade roses fit.
Design with climbing roses
Climbing roses enchant the garden with lush flower cascades. No other rose group is so well suited to growing up on structural elements. In addition, modern climbing roses adorn the garden with another bloom after their main pile in June, which is usually preserved until the first frost. Because of its dense and tall growth and many fragrant varieties, the climbing rose should be planted primarily in seating. In the garden you can create a wild, romantic flair with it. As a privacy screen, the climbing rose can surround a pavilion, for example. The variety ‘Kir Royal’ invites you to take a seat under its filled pink flower sea.
As a visually beautiful and blooming demarcation from the neighboring property, the duo made of vine (clematis) and climbing rose in the natural rose garden is a very good alternative to solid privacy walls made of wood or metal. On the wrought iron fence element, for example, the robust red-flowered climbing rose ‘flame dance’ can be paired with the perennial clematis ‘Juuli’. The special thing about planting in combination with the perennial clematis is that it withdraws into the earth in winter and does not sprout until spring. However, the rose with its long, bare shoots also shapes the wintry garden.
With their blossoms, climbing roses can also transform arcades in the rose garden into a colorful fragrance experience. They conjure up more depth and foresight in the garden if they are arranged as a flower color gradient from strong to delicate. The climbing roses ‘Falstaff’ with dark crimson flowers and ‘The Wedgewood Rose’ with delicate pink are wonderfully suitable for this. Both have very double flowers and belong to the English roses. They are also ideal for a representative planting on the garden fence.
With their long, upright growing and bushy shoots, Rambler should not be missing when designing a near-natural rose garden. They gracefully cling to old high walls or climb into the crowns of old trees. With fragrant creamy white flowers, the rambler rose ‘Lykkefund’ attracts bees. A special eye-catcher in the garden is the combination with the pure white flowers of an old cherry tree.
Roses and their planting partners in the bed
Bedding and small shrub roses adorn the borders of the classic rose gardens. But a bed design looks much more exciting and versatile if you combine the roses with suitable flowering plants and ornamental grasses.
A composition of perennials and roses skilfully stages the prickly beauty. A planting of Indian nettle ‘thundercloud’ and bed rose ‘Mozart’ spices up the bed with strong pink. In terms of color, fine jet asters match the bed rose ‘Mary Rose’ with double pink flowers. An excellent rose cavalier is the subshrub Blue Rhombus (Perovskia). However, since it prefers lean soils, it should be placed at a distance of 50 centimeters from the rose, just like the popular planting partner Lavender. The bright yellow of the milkweed creates a refreshing contrast to the delicate purple flowers of the small shrub rose ‘Lavender Dream’. The cranesbill ‘Rozanne’ and the sage ‘Blue Hill’ fit well in this bed.
An elegant planting of white shrubs, such as lupines and white-edged sparks with the bed rose ‘Lions Rose’ and the imposing cream-white rose ’William and Catherine’, bred by David Austin, has a completely different color direction and design effect.
The filigree, upright growing leaves and stalks of many grasses create beautiful contrasts with the rose petals. The rose garden can be impressively designed with grasses that color their leaves in autumn, such as millet or various types of Chinese reed. Even early grass blossoms put the roses in the spotlight: the lamp cleaner grass ‘Red Head’ blooms with red-green ears in June and July and, with a stature height of up to sixty centimeters, is not much larger than bed roses. Combined with the changing color shade of cream white and light yellow of the bed rose ‘Lady Romantica’, the planting looks modern. The bed rose ‘Pastella’, which has been awarded the ADR seal, brings nostalgia to the bed in a duet with the straight stalks of the mountain riding grass (Calamagrostis varia).
Scented roses: the spice of the rose garden
Roses are inextricably linked to their wonderful fragrance. Special scented roses such as ‘Colette’, ‘Kiftsgate’ or ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ make gardeners and visitors enthusiastic. Correctly placed under windows, at arbors, passageways or seats, fragrant roses with their optionally delicate, lovely, sweet or heavy aroma bring unmistakable flair to the garden. When designing a rosary with fragrant roses, be careful not to mix too many flavors. Instead, stage individual scented roses. The sunnier the location, the more intense the rose fragrance. Many insects and moths are also attracted to the scent of the rose and buzz around the fine flowers. Unfortunately, the scent for a long time fell behind the promotion of plant health and a magnificent bloom in the trade. New varieties now create both: a robust rose with a pleasant fragrance. So when choosing to design a new rose bed, don’t just let the optics guide you – take a look at the wide range.
Design with shrub and wild roses
Shrub and wild roses reach heights of 150 to over 250 centimeters and should therefore be planted in the bedding background. Because of their size, they are also suitable for solitary use in garden design. If you want a lush, large shrub in the rose garden after just two to three years, you can simply plant three specimens of the same variety at a distance of 80 centimeters. They unite to form a beautiful rose bush. The shrub rose ‘My beautiful garden’ forms many strong shoots and is 150 centimeters tall. A suitable planting partner is the dwarf uster ’Lodense’, which turns its otherwise dark green leaves in bronze in autumn. You can also plant the privet in the rose garden as a hedge and cut it regularly.
Small rose gardens
Most roses remain so compact that they can also be used on small lots – for example as a compact rose hedge. In the natural garden, for example, vinegar roses (Rosa gallica) or potato roses (Rosa rugosa) are suitable. If you want to place wonderfully blooming shrub roses in the small garden to save space, you can plant them as standard stem roses. In combination with this, low shrubs or ground-covering roses, also known as small shrub roses, are suitable. A dream in white is the combination of shrub rose ‘Snow White’ and ground cover rose ‘Sea Foam’. If you want to bring the color orange to the small rose garden, plant compact shrub roses like ‘Maja Oetker’ together with the ground cover rose ‘Bentheimer Gold’.
When designing small rose gardens with intoxicating blooms, the color effect of the plants is particularly important. Bright colors have a higher luminosity. They make the garden appear larger and provide an enchanting flair even at dusk. The rose blooming rose ‘White Wedding’, which grows compactly around a trellis, is very popular with rose fans. Dreamlike planting partners are Turkish poppies ‘Royal Wedding’ and gray-leafed wool zies (Stachys byzantina).
Not only a small garden but also the terrace and balcony can be designed with roses. The queen of flowers also feels at home in planters, provided they are deep enough. A variety of flower colors and shapes can be cleverly combined. Various Mediterranean tub plants and evergreen box balls go very well with this. For small pots and window boxes, mini roses or dwarf shrub roses that are only 30 centimeters high are also suitable, for example the variety ‘sunflower’ with a simple white flower and yellow center. Floribunda roses need larger tubs – the English rose ‘Christopher Marlowe’, for example, blooms more often, which makes itself wonderful in tall, narrow terracotta pots.
Decorative accessories for the rose garden
There are some decorative and useful accessories that should not be missing in any rose garden. Particularly romantic objects made of steel or forged iron with a black phosphorized surface or a noble rust patina – from rose arches and rose sticks to the pavilion to the rank obelisk – are a must. White glazed wood is also often used as pergolas and trellises. Muted, neutral colors are important so that the accessories do not compete too much with the colored rose petals. Small decorative balls in a bed made of glass or ceramics may also be colorful or at least colored. You can create a particularly magical seating area with iron furniture, for example with small bistro tables or hand-forged benches.
Stone busts with angel-like faces made of stone cast or natural stone work well against the delicate flowers of the roses. For example, place them on a wall ledge or next to a bench. You can place the above-mentioned decorative elements in the rose garden as an eye-catcher at prominent places where they attract the attention of visitors.
Famous rose gardens
If you want to create a rose garden, it doesn’t hurt to be a little inspired and collect ideas. Our tip: Just visit a few famous rose gardens during the flowering period in June before you start your own project. So you get a feeling for harmonious plant combinations and can examine the different types of roses in natura. Noteworthy rose gardens include the patronage and rose novelty garden in Baden-Baden, the rosarium in Sangerhausen, the Italian rose garden on the island of Mainau, the rosarium in Bad Wörishofen, the rose garden in Zweibrücken or the rose garden in Forst.