Few plants divide gardeners as roses. To some they embody old-time glamour, while others consider them passé and a martyr to pests and diseases. It wasn’t always like this. Roses have been grown in this country for centuries and up until the 1970s, few would have taken a swipe at them. In fact, it was almost impossible to walk along a suburban street and not spot a hybrid tea or two in a front garden. However, an influx of varieties that submitted easily to black spot, aphids and rust, saw their popularity nose dive.
Fortunately, most of the notorious sickly varieties are no longer available, leaving lots of fantastic old roses with heavily scented, blowsy blooms, and modern disease resistant varieties that are equally well worth growing. There’s no doubt that they’re now back in vogue and shrub, climbing, rambling roses, along with all the other types are taking their place in gardens once again. Avoid planting bushes cheek-by-jowl in formal beds. That look belongs in the past. Surround them with flowering perennials or dot them among panicum, calamagrostis, Stipa tenuissima or other ornamental grasses, for a thoroughly contemporary display.