Once and only or repeat-flowering?

Modern roses are generally bred to be repeat-flowering with a main flush in June, followed by further flowers throughout the season. These roses ration their flowers with five to six weeks between flushes, finishing with a late flourish in October, or even November. All repeat-flowering roses need deadheading regularly to encourage more bloom. They also need feeding, both before (in early spring) and after their first flush, to keep them healthy and floriferous - Vitax Q4 is good as it is easy to sprinkle on and long-lasting with lots of flower-boosting potash.

Once and only-flowering roses are glorious in June, before fading away for good. However their branches drip with masses of flower for two or three weeks, adding great glory to the summer garden. Every gardener should aspire to plant a few for this reason, but there is no point in deadheading or feeding them after flowering because their work is done for the year. Just feed them once a year in early spring, just as the roses begin to grow.

Rambling roses are nearly always once and only flowering, producing new growth from the base every year. Many are vigorous and capable of scrambling into a mature tree, or covering a building given five or so years. ‘Paul’s Himalayan Musk’ could be mistaken for apple blossom from a distance, with its soft-pink sprays of double rosettes rising above small sea-green leaves. It has a graceful habit of cascading downwards, so this musk-scented rose is an excellent addition. The double flowers last for four weeks at least, and this rose is expansive but not overwhelming. ‘Kiftsgate’ is the most rampant rambler of all, so be warned. This white rose will need space and lots of it.

The white ‘Rambling Rector’, often known as Shakespeare’s  Musk, is less feisty. The cream-white, semi-double flowers age to white, above greyish green foliage that never shows any disease. Small hips follow for autumn colour. The growth is more rigid, but it will scale a tree, or cover a shed quite happily. ‘Wedding Day’ has lemon buds that produce single white flowers with lots of golden stamens. The flowers age and develop a pale-pink blush. Finally the blue-purple ‘Veilchenblau’ is glorious planted on light stone walls in a sunny position, where it will turn purple - a unique colour in rambling roses.  

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