Climbing or rambling rose


The Rambling Rose and the Climbing Rose. What’s the Difference?

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The Rambling Rose has several unique qualities which sets it apart from the Climbing Rose. Ramblers are distinctly different from the Climbing Roses in that they have blooms in clusters of seven (the climbers have clusters of five) and their leaves are in groups of seven (the climbers have groups of five).

The Leaf Of A Rambler.

The other difference is that the Ramblers will only flower once eg. the Banksia Rose, whereas the Climbers will flower repeatedly eg. Madame Alfred Carriere.

However, two ramblers do flower repeatedly – ‘Malvern Hills’ and ‘Snow Goose’. Ramblers also have very few thorns compared to the Climbers.

Rambling roses have stems (canes) which are more flexible than the Climbers, so they are much easier to train on a trellis, over an archway, or even across the ground as a beautiful ground cover. They are also generally more vigorous than climbing roses; they would do better climbing up a tree than over a fence or pergola. Always check the height if you are considering a new rambler for your garden! (Some will grow to 40 feet or more).

There are three different types of Ramblers: the Sempervirens, the Multiforas and the Wichurana Ramblers.

Sempervirens Ramblers.

Rosa ‘Adelaide d’ Orleans’. Bred by Antoine Jacques in France 1826. Jacques was the head gardener to the Duc d’Orleans from 1842 to 1834, hence its name. This gorgeous Sempervirens rambling rose will grow from 14 – 15 feet. It is very fragrant and blooms in Spring. It is a wonderful cover for pergolas, arches and of course, for privacy. It has small, double pale pink blooms which are cup-shaped. Very pretty.

Another Sempervirens rambling rose, ‘Felicite et Perpetue’. Also bred by Jacques in 1828. This rambler is extremely tough and disease resistant and its perfume is said to be like the Primrose. Apparently Felicite and Perpetue were twin sisters. The only rose named after two people.

I have read that the two roses above are the only Sempervirens available today.

Wichurana Ramblers.

The Stunning Rose “Albertine’.

The Wichuranas are named after the German botanist Max Ernst Wichura (1817–1866). While the Wichuranas are beautiful and popular in themselves, they are also known to be the parents of ‘Dorothy Perkins’, the stunning ‘Alberic Barbier’ ‘New Dawn’ and ‘Albertine’. ‘Albertine’ is a rose you will fall in love with at first sight.

Wichuranas are so determined to grow, that they will often take over everything in their path. Life with a Wichurana is not easy, unless you love regular pruning to save your pergola or even your house. Be careful where you put them. My Banksia, however, was well-behaved and only reached the top of the plum tree in fifteen years. The other one I had was trained around a huge water tank. It looked so beautiful because it flowered at the same time as the Lily of the Valley below it. But I was very disappointed with the short bloom time. On the other hand, my Mum’s Banksia Rose was so vigorous, she had to have it taken out.

The tough award winning Wichurana Rambler ‘New Dawn’. AARS Winner. 2000.

Not only is it easy to keep, it is very fragrant. It was developed in 1930 and is repeat flowering with 3″ blooms and looks divine over an archway or a trellis against a wall. Modern climbers were based upon this very special rose which is a real winner among the disease resistant roses. This rose will grow to 18 feet. New Dawn was inducted into the Rose Hall of Fame in 1997.

‘Dorothy Perkins’. The first rose ever to have been named after a person. Introduced in 1906 by Miller, who worked for Jackson and Perkins in the USA.

Red Dorthy Perkins (Rosa ‘Excelsa’).

There’s even a ‘White Dorothy Perkins’.

The beautiful Hybrid Wichurana Rose ‘Alberic Barbier’.

The beautiful Wichurana Rose ‘Awakening’. Awakening is a sport of the sensational New Dawn.

Another Wichurana beauty: Francois Juranville.

Rambling Wichurana Banksia Rose. Named after Sir Joseph Banks’ wife. This rambling Wichurana will grow to 20 feet in Spring. I have grown this but was disappointed by the short flowering period. However, if I had known more, I would have planted roses that flower at different times in succession such as planting ramblers with climbing roses timed to take over when one left off. Just as we plant annuals and perennials which flower at different times, we can also do the same with roses. It does take a lot of thinking and planning but the long term result will be amazing.

The Wichurana ‘Alexandre Girault’.

Multifora Ramblers.

Such a beautiful sight. The Multiflora rambling rose ‘Goldfinch’. This one will only grow to 12 feet. It is fragrant, and spectacular even though it only has a short bloom period.

The Multiflora rambler ‘Ghislaine de Feligonde’ from France in 1916. This rose is often classed as a climber and it has confused me quite a bit. But no longer, because its parentage is ‘Goldfinch x Seedling’. That’s good enough for me. It’s a Rambler. It’s almost thornless, it is fragrant and its height is about 10 feet.

‘Veilchenblau’ Rambler 1909. This rambling rose will grow to 20 feet, is once-flowering with a moderate fragrance. It is a very popular rose.

If you love purple, this one is for you. The lovely Wichurana Rosa ‘Donau’.

‘American Pillar’. Will grow to 23 feet and was introduced into the USA in 1902. It has little or no fragrance, but just look what happens when it flowers just once. A whole bunch together. Perfect.

Close up of ‘American Pillar’.

‘Bobbie James’ Multiflora Rambler. Just beautiful …

‘Rambling Rector’ Multiflora Rambler.

Multiflora ‘Blush Rambler’. Very popular with exquisite dainty blossoms. 20 feet.

‘Dortmund’ Rambler.

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Fragrant Climbers and Ramblers.

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Rambling or Climbing Roses: Which One To Choose?

If you are looking for showy climbing plants that can be left to their own devices or easily trained against garden structures, there is no better choice than rambling or climbing roses.

When trained against an archway, rambling roses look particularly striking.

Although the two might look similar at the first glance, there are various differences between the breathtakingly pretty varieties. Depending on the maintenance level you are willing to commit to, as well as your preferences when it comes to types of blooms and their season of flowering, the choice between rambling or climbing roses can make a world of difference for a gardener.

What Makes Rambling and Climbing Roses Different?

The main characteristic that sets these two rose species apart is their bloom which differ in terns of the size of the blossoms and the length of the flowering season. Rambling roses produce a profusion of small, charming roses that smother the stems. Sometimes, one stem alone can hold up to 20 flowers. The masses of the petite roses will last for several weeks. They will appear in late spring to early summer, usually in June.

When it comes to climbing roses, the flowering situation is a complete opposite. These lovely climbers produce showy, large roses but in more modest quantities. The luxurious-looking blossoms are also repeated, throughout summer and autumn. However, there are exceptions to the rule: climber varieties Rosa banksiae Lutea and the Rose Snow Princess will produce smaller flowers borne in abundant clusters.

On the left, Rosa Banksiae Rosea rambling rose, and on the right Rosa Banksiae Alba, a lovely climber variety.

Since rambling roses flower on previous year’s growth and the climbing roses flower on the new growth, the pruning procedure will also be different for these two rose species. Ramblers generally need much less care and pruning, and they will not mind being neglected. whereas climbers require annual pruning to stay in top shape. Ramblers are best pruned in late summer, and climbers in late autumn or winter.

Additionally, as rambling roses flower only once a year, they will not need deadheading. In fact, many of the rambler varieties produce a crop of hips once their flowering season ends, offering interest well into the winter season, with the pretty reddish fruit standing out in the bleak landscape.

Both species are easy to train and can be grown against arches, arbors, pergolas, fences, trellis, or walls. However, the slightly larger size of the Ramblers (some varieties can reach up to 6 metres in height), as well as their vigorous growth habit, make them more suited for larger gardens. On the other hand, the tempered growth habit and a maximum size of no more than 3.5 metres in height with a 1-metre spread ensure climbing roses do well in gardens with less space.

Having in mind these differences, it is clear that making the right choice between these varieties is crucial. Which one should you choose for your garden: rambling or climbing rose? All things considered, it seems that it is hard to go wrong with either of the species!

Rambling or Climbing Roses: Picking Out the Best Varieties

Depending on your preferences, gardening skills, as well as the size of your garden, you might find that some rose varieties suit your needs much better than others. Whether you end up choosing rambling or climbing rose, here are some of the cultivars that will enhance the landscape with their beautiful appearance – and all of them are fully hardy in the United Kingdom.

Rambling Rose Varieties

Rosa Rambling Rector

This variety is one of the most popular ramblers in the UK. The profusion of its semi-double white roses will leave you speechless!

Rosa Pauls Himalayan Musk Rambler

The pale pink blossoms have a rich, pleasant fragrance, which is one of the reasons why this cultivar remains highly sought-after ever since its introduction in the 19th century.

The profusion of roses creates a wonderful floral display in the garden. Pictured here is Rosa Banksia Lutea variety.

Rosa Veilchenblau Rambling Rose

You would be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful variety than the violet rambler, which boasts majestic purple-mauve petals in June.

Rosa Crimson Shower

This UK-native cultivar is ideally suited for draping pergolas, as its deep pink roses create a cozy, romantic environment that will be the envy of your neighbours.

Rosa Banksiae Rosea

Unlike its close relatives, this pink rambler has a bushier habit and can be shaped as a shrub – ideal if you don’t want to train your rose.

The Rosa Banksiae rambler will bring grace and elegance to any landscape.

Rosa Bobbie James

The creamy white roses borne in sprays will be the centre of the attention in your garden, even among more colourful varieties.

Rosa American Pillar Rambling Rose

While these lovely pink roses have no scent, they produce showy hips that will offer interest after the flowering season passes.

Climbing Rose Varieties

Rosa Golden Gate

A new variety of climbing rose, this gorgeous yellow-blooming cultivar has already become quite loved by gardeners- it is disease resistant, hardy, and stunning!

Florentina Rose

You simply cannot beat the timeless beauty of the crimson red rose! The brilliant red double blooms will flower repeatedly, making your garden the loveliest in the neighborhood even at the beginning of the autumn.

The large, gorgeous bloom of the Rose Aloha climber leaves no one indifferent.

Rosa Aloha Climbing Rose

This is one of the most coveted climbers and with good reason. Its blush pink, repeating blooms will remain on the stems well into November.

Rosa New Dawn

A sport of the Wichurana climbing rose, this cultivar features elegant pale pink flowers and a long history as one of the most beloved climber varieties in the country.

Rosa New Dawn boasts pale blush pink flowers that have a prolonged season.

Rosa Rosanna

The double, salmon-pink blossoms of this climbing rose leave no one indifferent. Add that to the fact that this cultivar is also very hardy and resilient, and it is no wonder that Rosanna is one of the most popular varieties.

Rosa Banksiae Alba

If the graceful and elegant appearance of white climbing roses appeals to you, you will love this variety. Its fragrant and profuse blossoms will adorn your garden throughout summer and autumn.

Whether you opt for rambling or climbing roses, we at Paramount Plants have what you need. You can browse our our cultivars online – we offer nationwide delivery for all of our plants! If you need any advice or information about rambling or climbing rose for your garden, drop us an email.

See also our full collection of climbing plants.

Fragrant Climbing Roses. Beautiful Blooms With Dependable Habits.

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Fragrant Climbing Roses On A Country Cottage.

These fragrant climbing roses are the most popular of all. They are not all award winners; they don’t have to be. They are the ones which have been tried and trusted over many years by rose lovers worldwide. This page continues on from the Fragrant Roses page where you will find the most fragrant roses which have won the John Gamble Fragrance Award.

There you will find the following roses which are also available as climbers (guaranteed to be highly fragrant):

  • Crimson Glory to 6 feet
  • Chrysler Imperial to 6 feet
  • Granada to 6 feet
  • Fragrant Cloud to 6 feet
  • Double Delight to 6 feet
  • Angel Face to 12 feet
  • Mr. Lincoln to 7 feet
  • Fragrant Plum to 7 feet

But the Fragrant Climbing Roses on this page are the real climbers, those which will cover your archway, your pergola, your arbor, a pillar, a trellis, in fact your whole house. They are not in any particular order, they are just beautiful, popular and fragrant.

Some of these Fragrant Climbing Roses will be by David Austin, of course, but only a few. Fragrant Climbing English Roses (David Austin) are in a class of their own and will come later. But there are definitely some which must be mentioned here. Bear in mind that you will have to train your climbing roses to some degree, so its best to choose a rose with flexible canes, especially if you are going to braid it (see Zepherine Droughin below for how to do that).

The Fragrant Climbing Rose Abraham Darby.

A David Austin Rose, Abraham Darby is named after the man who built the very first iron bridge which is near Austin’s Rose Nurseries in the UK. It is one of his most famous and most fragrant English Roses. A truly beautiful addition to any garden which requires a fragrant climbing rose.

The beautiful old fashioned cup-shaped rosettes on Abraham Darby are 4 to 5 inches across, with up to 70 or more petals in apricot, yellow, cream and pink tones, with a superb fruity fragrance. The heavy blooms have a delightful drooping or nodding effect.

This wonderful fragrant climbing rose will grow from 8 to 10 feet in height with showy mid green foliage. It is a repeat bloomer through spring and into summer. It can be trained to climb just about anywhere – even against a wall.

David Austin used the fragrant climber Aloha and the Floribunda Rose Yellow Cushion to create this amazing English Climbing Rose. On top of its other amazing qualities, it is also highly disease resistant, making it just about perfect. It is also suited to the Australian climate, especially in the Temperate Zone.

If you want to try to grow some of these fragrant climbing roses very closely against a wall, you can do it by learning how to ‘Espalier’. Better Homes and Gardens. Fascinating! My Father always had espaliered roses on a fence, and other espaliered shrubs as well. Many plants lend themselves to this technique. And then there are Rose Arbors, Pergolas, Archways, Trellises, Pillar Roses … so many ways of displaying your fragrant climbers and ramblers.

Zephirine Drouhin. Old Bourbon Rose.

A very fragrant old Bourbon Rose Climber. It was first bred in 1868 and has increased in popularity ever since. It will reach a height of 16 to 20 feet and just continues to bloom in flush after flush from spring through summer and into autumn. No other modern rose can equal it for fragrance and vigorous performance.

The foliage is mid green to begin and as it matures it will darken. The blooms are 3 to 4 inches across with up to 25 petals with the old-fashioned rose fragrance, and the more you ‘hack’ it back, the more blooms you will get. You will need lots of space and strong support for this non-stop grower. It has few, if any, thorns and it is shade tolerant.

New Dawn. Hybrid Wichurana Rambler.

New Dawn is just about the most popular Fragrant Climbing Rose. It is officially a Rambler which means that it can reach amazing heights: anywhere from 10 to 20 feet; so it needs a very strong support. Its fragrance is strong, fruity and very sweet. Unlike most Ramblers, it flowers more than once, beginning in spring or early summer and continuing right through until late autumn.

You can train it to cover and surround a whole Gazebo for afternoon coffee! It has pale pink, silver-like blooms which are 4 inches across with up to 40 petals on each. It is a very romantic and delicate-looking climber, but it is very vigorous and disease resistant. And on top of all that, it will tolerate both shade and heat. What more could you ask of a rose? It has been around since 1930 and was inducted into the Rose Hall of Fame in 1997. It has its own page: the New Dawn Rose.

Gertrude Jekyll. English Rose.

A highly fragrant climbing rose by David Austin with the scent of the true old fashioned rose (Damask). It will grow to a height of 10 feet. Gertrude Jekyll was a famous garden designer whose influence is still around today. The foliage is mid to dark green. It has from about 80 to well over 100 petals on the beautiful bright pink blooms which are 4 inches or more across when fully open and blooms in clusters of the true English Rose rosette shape. The flowering period is throughout summer and autumn. Developed in 1986.

Constance Spry. English Rose.

Constance Spry is another David Austin Fragrant Climbing English Rose. It was his very first rose, introduced in 1961, and is named after the famous floral designer. Here’s what his website has to say about it: “One of the most superb of all climbing roses. A beautiful rose with magnificent, clear pink blooms of true Old Rose form. The flowers are exceptionally large, with a luminous delicacy that is hard to compare with any other rose”.

That would be enough for me, but there are other features of this beauty to consider. Height: 12 feet. The blooms are deep cups, 4 inches across with up to 40 petals of a gorgeous rich rose pink (which is the only colour for a rose, after all …) and the fragrance is a strong Myrrh (sweet and spicy) scent.

The foliage is mid green and the blooms appear singly, but when this rose really gets going, there are masses of them. It blooms only once for a month or so during spring or early summer, but is well worth waiting for. It is excellent as a Pillar Rose as the canes have a lovely arching habit, but it looks good wherever it can be shown off to full effect, like all fragrant rose climbers. It is a hardy and very vigorous grower.

Don Juan. Hybrid Tea Rose.

A sumptuous Fragrant Climber with velvety rich red blooms, in clusters, up to 5 inches across with up to 40 or more petals which are delightfully ruffled and have the a strong, true old-fashioned rose fragrance (Damask) with even a hint of Raspberry. Being a Hybrid Tea Rose, Don Juan is excellent for cutting and filling your home with fragrance.

It is an excellent rose for training on a trellis or pergola or against a wall and it repeat flowers from spring through to autumn. Definitely a rose for Valentine’s Day. This beauty will grow to a height of 12 feet and will not disappoint you. It’s parents are New Dawn and New Yorker and it was first bred in 1958, so it comes from good stock and has had plenty of time to prove itself as popular. See what can be done with this glorious red fragrant rose climber on Google Images.

Apart from Crimson Glory and Chrysler Imperial, which will both reach 6 feet or maybe more (see Fragrant Roses page), this is the only red fragrant rose climber which has enough scent to be called ‘strong’. However, there are plenty of other red fragrant rose climbers with a milder scent.

Madame Alfred Carriere. Old Tea Noisette Rose.

The Madame Alfred Carriere rose was introduced in 1879. It is also known as a French Antique Rose. This is an amazing and easy to grow fragrant rose climber which will grow to a height of 25 feet. But it must be pruned regularly in early winter so that you don’t end up with all the flowers on the top. It was the first climber to be grown at Sissinghurst Castle in the 1930’s and it still grows there today.

The flowers are large, 4 inches across with 30 petals or more, and are white suffused with pink. It is shade tolerant and does best facing south (meaning north in Australia). It has the wonderful old-fashioned rose fragrance and blooms repeatedly from spring until mid autumn. The canes are flexible, making it possible to train it over just about anything you want. This rose is a must have for me.

Compassion. Hybrid Tea Rose.

This highly fragrant climbing rose is a winner: Royal National Rose Society Edland Fragrance Medal of 1973; Award of Garden Merit 1993. It will grow to 15 feet and is ideal for a wall, a trellis, a fence, but especially a pillar.

The blooms are large with around 36 to 40 petals which are salmon pink, orange and rose pink, flushed with gold. They are delightfully ruffled and somewhat raggedy. It has a very strong sweet fragrance with large 4 inch blooms and dark green foliage. It flowers repeatedly from late spring to late summer. It should be pruned in early winter to keep the blooms coming. You don’t want to miss any …

It’s parents are White Cockade and Prima Ballerina, both truly awesome! So it has very high disease resistance. It makes an excellent cut flower to fill your home with perfume. The blooms appear both singly and in small clusters.

Gloire de Dijon. Old Noisette Rose.

This beautiful old fragrant climbing rose was bred in 1853. It is frequently listed as Hybrid Tea Rose, probably because of the pointy petals which are actually a characteristic of the Tea Roses. However, it is definitely a Noisette or a Tea Noisette. Hybrid Teas were not created until 1867 and were a combination of Hybrid Perpetuals and the Tea Roses.

Its parents were ‘Desprez de Jaune’ (a Noisette) and ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ ( an extremely famous and popular Noisette rose named after the home of the Empress Josephine). Gloire de Dijon was an original inductee in the Old Rose Hall of Fame in 1988.

This amazingly fragrant rose climber will grow to 18 feet or more, surrounding you with an intense Tea Fragrance. It blooms in early summer with repeat flushes until the first frost. It has extremely high disease resistance and will even tolerate some shade.

The old fashioned fluffy blooms are 4 inches across with apricot, cream, gold and pink tones. The foliage is mid green. It has very vigorous growth for pillars, archways, a gazebo, pergola, a trellis or a wall. A truly perfect old fragrant climbing rose. Take a look at the Google Images which show just how many shades of colour become apparent as this stunning rose climber goes from bud to full bloom, and see what can be done with it.

Eglantyne. English Rose.

This sublime David Austin fragrant climbing rose was named after Eglantyne Jebbs who founded the ‘Save the Children Fund’. Developed in 1994, it is considered to be one of his very best. His website remarks: “We regard this as one of the most beautiful of the English Roses. The flowers are quite large and of exquisite formation – the petals turning up at the edges to form a shallow saucer filled with small petals”.

Its height is from 6 to 8 feet. It has a strong old rose fragrance with long stemmed single blooms, making it ideal as a cut flower. There are 130 petals or more on the 3 inch blooms which are coloured rose pink to pale pink with a large gold centre. The foliage is mid to dark green. The buds are well formed, ideal for a buttonhole. It has very high disease resistance and flowers repeatedly from early summer to early autumn. It grows well in Australia.

Albertine. Hybrid Wichurana Rambling Rose.

Beyond beautiful, this highly fragrant Wichurana Rambler is guaranteed to stun with its sheer beauty. Like most Ramblers, it only flowers once a year for a month or so, but it’s so worth waiting for to enjoy the beauty and the fragrance while it lasts.

The flowers are excellent for cutting: up to 3 inches across, with beautiful clusters of pink blooms which are cup-shaped with gold at the centres.

It will grow to 20 feet so it’s another for the gazebo for coffee time, or train it over a pergola, an arbor, a huge trellis on a wall, or just anywhere where you can see and smell it.

First bred in France in 1921, it has very vigorous growth with flexible reddish canes, ideal for training as long as you wear gloves – it is quite thorny – but with its delightful arching habit, it is well worth making that special effort. It will flower in late spring to the beginning of summer for about 6 weeks, with a strong tea rose scent. I could not wish for a prettier fragrant climbing rose.

If you’ve never seen it, take a look at the divine Google Images. Each photo says it all …

Westerland. Climbing Floribunda Rose.

The Glorious Clustered Rosa Westerland.

Westerland was introduced in 1969 by Kordes in Germany. It is a tough, hardy, reliable, vigorous, fragrant climbing rose. The strong perfume is a spicy clove scent, and it has adorable ruffled apricot to orange flowers, tinged with pink, which are large and borne in clusters. The blooms are 5 inches across – huge – with up to 30 petals or more (I counted 35 on mine). It will reach 12 feet in height and its flexible canes make it so easy to train.

I cannot speak highly enough of this special rose. It is so cheery and ‘blooms forever’. Its dark green foliage sets it off perfectly. It flowers repeatedly from spring, right through summer and into autumn. Most of the year. One of the longest flowering periods for a rose. Perfect for Autralia. And on top of this it is highly disease resistant and it will even tolerate some shade. Read more on its own page: Westerland Rose.

Aloha. Hybrid Tea Rose.

This beautiful fragrant climbing rose has been delighting rose lovers since 1949 and is still hugely popular today; not to be confused with the Kordes ‘Aloha’ rose which is orange yellow. It has very large flowers, 5 inches across, which are rose pink fading to light pink, each one with 60 or more petals which become delightfully ruffled as it opens out; the reverse side is a darker pink. They are produced in very attractive clusters.

The foliage is perfect: a dark glossy green. It will grow to 10 or 12 feet in height and can be easily trained, or just left to grow up a fence or a wall with very little pruning. This is a low maintenance fragrant rose climber which is vigorous and so hardy that you can’t kill it with an axe. It flowers repeatedly from early summer to mid autumn. It has excellent disease resistance and is even shade tolerant.

Buff Beauty. Hybrid Musk Rose.

This beautiful fragrant climbing rose looks like an Old Noisette Rose because one of its parents came from that beautiful class of roses (1875). It also has the classic dependable characteristics of strong fragrance (tea rose), hardiness and disease resistance. It will even tolerate some heat and some shade.

One of the best ever Hybrid Musk Roses, the blooms are 3 to 4 inches across with 45 or more petals, and droop in heavy clusters, so you can surround yourself with fragrance and beauty. The foliage is mid green and it will grow to a height of up to 12 feet. It was first bred in 1939, so it is a well tested old favourite among the fragrant rose climbers.

It is a repeat bloomer all summer long, with beautifully arching canes. David Austin describes this rose as “One of the finest of the Hybrid Musks, bearing flowers of a rich lovely apricot-yellow and having a strong Tea Rose fragrance.” Also available as a shrub rose to 5 feet.

Blush Noisette. Very Old Noisette Rose.

Blush Noisette is a very old reliable fragrant climbing rose, first bred around 1815 and still hugely popular today. It will bloom all through summer and into autumn until the first frost. In warmer climate zones it will bloom even earlier. It is a repeat bloomer with a strong spicy clove scent. It has beautiful blooms from 2 to 3 inches across in blushing pink fading to white. These appear in clusters; the dark green foliage sets off the pale flowers beautifully. See the Google Images. Amazing.

Like all the old Noisettes, it is vigorous and hardy, with good disease resistance. The canes are long, smooth and arching, making it ideal for training over a pergola, around a verandah, as a pillar rose or on a trellis, just about anywhere you can think of. It will grow to a height of 10 feet or more.

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Climbing or Rambler Roses for my Garden?

Climbing Roses are superb for clothing walls, draping porches or adding romance to pergolas with their foliage and colorful blossoms. What to pick? A Climbing Rose or a Rambling rose? While these roses produce long stems and attractive blooms, they differ in several ways.

Here is a summary of the main differences between Climbing and Rambling Roses:

  • Rambling roses are vigorous shrubs with long, flexible stems which emerge from the base of the plants and are easy to train on trellises, over archways and pergolas. They are useful for scrambling through bushes and into trees, covering unsightly objects or large expanses of wall. Very strong-growing, they grow bigger than Climbing Roses and need space. Many Ramblers grow up to 20 ft. high (6 m) and 8-15 ft. wide (2-5 m). Less vigorous, and more controllable, Climbing Roses are shrubs with long, arching, stiff stems that are well adapted to training on arches, arbors, obelisks, pillars, fences, trellis and walls. Most Climbing Rose varieties grow from 6-12 ft. long (180-360 cm) and will spread about 3-4 ft. wide (90-120 cm). They are well adapted to small gardens.
  • Rambler Roses usually produce an abundance of small flowers held in large sprays, sometimes up to 20 blooms per stem. Climbing Roses produce a profusion of large, single or clustered, flowers.
  • Most Rambler Roses bloom once in late spring or early summer for several weeks. They may not repeat flower, but they make up for it with the massive quantities of blooms they produce in their main flush. Their long canes are literally smothered in roses, forming impressive cascades of colorful blooms. Most Climbing Roses usually repeat flower throughout summer and fall. Most bloom two or more times every season: first on old canes, and then on the current season’s growth. A few cultivars bloom continuously from early summer to fall.
  • Many Rambler varieties produce crops of decorative hips in the fall, which persist in winter and glitter in the sun.
  • Tough and reliable, Rambling Roses are generally very healthy and disease resistant, tolerant of partial shade and poor soils.
  • Rambler Roses require less care than Climbing Roses. They can thrive on neglect, although they may look unkempt and become unmanageable after a few years. Climbing Roses require more attention and an annual routine of pruning and training.

When the Robinsons moved to the family home at Moor Wood in the early 1980s, they were greeted by a sprawling garden of intricate areas demanding high maintenance. To simplify the planting, or “un-garden” it as Susie refers to it, meant a radical rethink. After all, what they had in spades was space, old walls, and established trees providing the perfect habitat for supple new shoots to clamber up.

Above: The chartreuse flowers of lady’s mantle complement the yellow flowers of a rambler rose at Moor Wood. Above: A hedge of ramblers will perfume the air next to a set of steps or a pathway.

Twenty years on, the garden looks as though it has been clothed in ramblers forever lending it a fairytale quality.

What is a National Plant Collection?

Above: R. ‘Albertine’ is a well-known old rambler growing up to 20 feet. The dark, salmon-pink buds open to almost double heads of coppery pink with a strong, sensual perfume.

In the United Kingdom, an umbrella organization called Plant Heritage oversees more than 630 national collections of garden plants, to document and preserve groups of plants for future generations. Each collection has a designated custodian and is grown in a specified location, ranging from private gardens to the public collections maintained by the Royal Horticultural Society.

What are the best rambler roses to grow?

Rosa ‘Jersey Beauty’

Above: R. ‘Jersey Beauty’ has elegant and profuse clusters of single flowers which fade from lemon-yellow to white, and the foliage is a rich, glossy green.

Rosa ‘Ghislaine de Féligonde’

Above: R. ‘Ghislaine de Féligonde’ is an unusual repeat flowering rambler with a musky fragrance and almost thornless stems. The rambler was named in 1916 by the French landscape architect Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier, after a friend’s daughter.

Rosa ‘Aviateur Blériot’

Above: Rosa ‘Aviateur Blériot’ was named after the French aviator Louis Blériot in 1902. The double flowers fade from orangey-yellow to cream and have a good fragrance.

Rosa ‘Narrow Water’

Above: Discovered at and named after Narrow Water Castle in Northern Ireland, R. ‘Narrow Water’ is a shorter rambler with clusters of lavender-pink flowers giving off a spicy scent.

See more growing tips in Roses: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design in our Perennials 101 guides. Read more about how to design a rose garden (or integrate a favorite rose into an existing garden bed):

  • The 7 Best Climbing Roses for Your Garden
  • Everything You Need to Know About Roses
  • Landscaping: 10 Rose Garden Design Ideas

The rose lends itself to plant breeding as willingly as its cousin the apple, and gardeners have been trying to find the next perfect rose for centuries. In recent years this tinkering has reached a new pitch as breeders, growers and nurseries have frantically sought to reinvent the rose and reshape its image as a sickly and fussy plant.

To a great extent they have succeeded, developing roses that bloom continually into fall and don’t need spraying. The shining example is the Knock Out rose, planted by the millions and defining office parks, hotel parking lots and home gardens where the owner doesn’t want to fuss with the plant life. Knock Out succeeds wildly as a bulletproof flowering shrub, but the plant is stiff in its habit and the off-key magenta bloom is hard to love. It is not the rose of Shakespeare sonnets.

But there is a rose worthy of such poetic devotion and one that has stayed above the fray of the breeding revolution. This is the rambling rose — the spreading, luxuriant rose of arbors, trellises and pergolas that is so decadent in its vigor, flower count, colors, fragrances and sheer elan that it almost dares you to declare it old-fashioned.

The rambler is not old-fashioned; it’s timeless. I can think of no other single plant that can lend an area of the garden so much drama, romance and character.

So why doesn’t everyone have one? They can be hard to find, and they require some work, but the biggest drawback is that they bloom just once a year. A single bower may be in flower for a month, and extravagantly even for a rose, but those attributes don’t wash for consumers programmed for ever-blooming roses.


We don’t fret when the dogwood blooms but once a year, or the clematis or the viburnum. We should allow room in our hearts — and gardens — for ramblers, and you don’t need a thatched, low-eaved cottage to get the effect. I have two growing on a utilitarian fence around my community garden plot. By any objective measure, they look great, especially the French heirloom named Alexandre Girault, dripping from mid-May to mid-June with hundreds of scented, crimson-pink blooms.

The lateral branches extend 25 feet, and the embrace would be more encompassing if I allowed it. Once the blooms fade, I spend about an hour cutting off all the spent flowers and then 10 minutes once a week through the summer trimming back the vegetative growth to keep it tidy-looking and clear of the adjoining path. Even if I viewed this work as a chore rather than as horticultural therapy, it would still be worth it for the annual display. I don’t spray it against black spot or anything else, and the foliage remains clean and disease-free.

Climbing roses, in comparison to ramblers, tend to bloom repeatedly through the season, but are shorter and with stiffer canes.

One rose lover who needs no convincing is Connie Hilker, who lives in an 1848 brick Gothic house in the Stafford County, Va., hamlet of Hartwood. The property, once part of a 1,150-acre antebellum estate, has nine acres of land adorned with old trees and charming outbuildings, and is wrapped in a paddock fence that serves as a gallery wall for her picture-perfect rambling roses.


A rose named Dr. W. Van Fleet was particularly festive when I visited recently. This is one of the best-known and most enduring rambling roses, but its offspring (actually a mutation known as a sport) has become more famous as the ubiquitous climber we know as New Dawn. New Dawn is a great rose — for one thing, it reblooms — but its parent has the edge when it comes to rambling qualities. The canes are more pliant and the rose is covered in so many soft pink blossoms that the petals, when they fall, turn the ground a blushed white.

Hilker, who is on a mission to collect and preserve antique rose varieties in danger of being lost, has a handful of lesser-known roses introduced by the Van Fleet rose’s namesake, Walter Van Fleet, including Alida Lovett, which is shell pink, vigorous and less thorny than most.

Behind the house, down the hill past the ancient pecan tree (with a spread of more than 100 feet), she has used the perimeter fence to present other ramblers. Here, she grows them in a more open style in which the lateral branches are fewer but allowed to grow long, and each one is peppered with blooms. Think of them as strings of festive lights, glowing in their rich colors and fragrances. One reason to grow roses laterally rather than just up: Horizontal growth encourages greater flowering along a branch.

She shows me one especially winsome rose, a variety named Leontine Gervais, with semidouble, glowing pink blooms and a conspicuous orange boss of stamens. At just three years in the ground here, it was already more than 40 feet across, though just five feet in height. This is the beauty of ramblers: The gardener determines the height and then lets them spread far and wide.


To grow them so low and openly, Hilker follows a methodical pruning regimen. They bloom on canes that developed the year before; the young shoots now growing at the base of the shrub will bear flowers next year. Those that are growing roughly in the right direction will be kept and tethered along the fence, and those that cannot be wrangled will be removed. Espaliered this way, no more than six lateral branches remain on each side. As the new canes are tied and trained, the oldest ones will be removed.

You don’t have to be this methodical about the pruning if you want a fuller, wilder look. Having established the lateral growth on my Alexandre Girault, I prune it to the width I want and remove congested canes in the winter. It is trimmed over the summer but I avoid the type of hard pre-spring pruning you would on a shrub rose to keep flower-bearing branches.

If you want a corner of your garden to look romantically brambly, you can do no pruning. This is in play with a fetching feral rose that Hilker has allowed to populate a corner of the property. Named Arcata Pink Globe, it sprawls itself like a languid diva over a fence and adjoining shrubbery. The flowers are four inches across, layered in soft pink petals and sweetly scented. The Arcata Pink Globe is due to be tamed, but Hilker will wait until next winter because it is currently supporting wildlife, including nesting cardinals.

Another way to go wild with ramblers is to allow them to grow into trees, an effect that needs the most robust of the gang. Hilker has American Pillar clambering up a red cedar tree and a Paul’s Himalayan Musk lurking in a black cherry tree. Other giants used in this role include the early May-flowering Banksian rose (white and yellow versions), Mrs. Keays’s Snowbush and the Kiftsgate rose.


Many ramblers are lax in their petal arrangements and their stems. This to my eye increases their charm, although the floppiness limits their role as cut flowers. In the vase they need propping up and don’t last that long. Maybe this is why Hilker prefers the more single and semidouble varieties. I keep meaning to plant the variety Francis E. Lester, which has large single blooms that are soft pink with contrasting yellow stamens. Dortmund is another vigorous scene-setting single bloomer with vibrant red flowers.

The essential consideration when growing ramblers is to make sure the structure they are growing on is strong and large enough for the task. “You see people with wimpy trellises or arches, and the next thing you know you’re having to dodge the roses,” said Nancy Moitrier, a gardener and landscape designer from Annapolis, Md. “It’s terrible if the rose collapses.”

This need for heft goes beyond the load-bearing physics and into the realm of design. The supporting structure is the rose’s full partner in the performance and together they create the character of their space. “When it’s strong enough, it reads as a destination,” said Gordon Hayward, a garden designer and author who lives in Putney, Vt. “That’s where a rambling rose comes into play, because nothing beats the drama of the rose.”

Photo by The Washington Post/ADRIAN HIGGINS
Rambling roses — such as this Alexandre Girault at the author’s community garden in Washington — are vigorous, pliable and bloom just once a year in extraordinary profusion. Photo by The Washington Post
Connie Hilker stands at the foot of American Pillar growing high into the canopy of an old red cedar tree. MUST CREDIT: Dayna Smith for The Washington Post RELATED ARTICLE

Sources for roses of the old school

HomeStyle on 07/07/2018

What Are Differences Between Rambler Roses And Climbing Roses?

By Stan V. Griep
American Rose Society Consulting Master Rosarian – Rocky Mountain District

In this article, we will take a look at two classifications of roses: the rambler roses and the climbing roses. Many think that these two types of roses are the same, but this is not true. There are distinct differences. Let’s take a look at the differences between rambler roses and climbing roses.

What are Rambler Roses?

The rambler or rambling roses are one of the ancestors of the climbing rose bushes of today. The rambler roses descended mostly from the roses known as R. wichuraiana and R. multiflora, which are very large and hardy rose bushes with flexible canes that pretty much bloom only once in the early summertime, although some will bloom more often. The R. wichuraiana roses are said to have the stronger canes that allow them to be excellent for even the most challenging of climbing situations.

The rambler roses are truly vigorous climbers but should not be grouped into the climbing rose class. They are unique and need to be preserved as such. These are the roses seen in many of the old paintings of Victorian gardens in England. Many rambler roses are wonderfully fragrant and put on such a grand display when in bloom that their limited in-bloom time is no deterrent.

The R. multiflora rambler rose is originally from the orient. Rosa multiflora is so vigorous that it is a popular rootstock for grafting with other more popular roses so that they may survive in the toughest of climates.

Some beautiful rambler roses are:

  • Darlow’s Enigma Rose
  • The King’s Rubies Rose
  • Apple Blossom Rose
  • Alexandre Girault Rose

What are Climbing Roses?

Climbing rose bushes are well classified as they do just that, they climb. Climbing roses are actually a quite diverse group that grows long arching canes that can be tied up and trained along fences, walls, trellises and arbors.

When I think of climbing roses, two come immediately to mind. One is named Blaze, a beautiful red blooming climber my mother grew. Another is a beautiful pink climber named New Dawn that I have seen beautifully draping up and over arbors. A sport of hers named Awakening is said to be even more profuse about blooming as well as being a hardier rose bush. Many climbing rose bushes are actually what are known as sports or mutations of other rose bushes, which includes the miniature rose bushes as well.

Climbing roses are excellent for limited flat space garden areas that have a lot of open vertical space to climb up and elegantly drape the area with beautiful blooms. This group of roses has a large variance in their winter hardiness, so be sure to check the recommended growing/hardiness zones before you buy.

Some popular and beautiful climbing roses are:

  • Dublin Bay Rose
  • Joseph’s Coat Rose
  • New Dawn Rose
  • Fourth of July Rose
  • Altissimo Rose
  • Clair Matin Rose
  • Penny Lane Rose

Some miniature climbing roses are:

  • Climbing Rainbows End Rose
  • Climbing Kristin Rose
  • Jeanne LaJoie Rose

These two are beautiful classes of rose bushes that are often featured in paintings and photography, as they easily stir the romantic side within us all.

All About Climbing Roses

Climbing roses are less fussy than their bush-form rose cousins; you simply need to have a handle on the basics. Learn all about climbing roses.

There’s nothing more enchanting than the iconic “rose-covered cottage”. The imagery of quaint, thatched-roof homes covered with long, sweet-smelling trails of colorful roses. Climbing roses can form a vibrant landscape backdrop for border perennials and annuals. They are also a lovely choice for arbors, trellises, fences, and pergolas. Most varieties will grow from 6- to 12-feet long and will spread about 3- to 4-feet wide. They are available in a range of pastels, brights, and multi-colors.

Climbers are considerably less fussy than their bush-form rose cousins; you simply need to have a handle on the basics and a little help from Mother Nature.

The Basics of Climbing Roses

Choosing a variety. Above all, determine whether the variety you want is suited for your growing zone – if you’re not already familiar with the importance of growing things suited to your hardiness zone, you can read more about that in our blog post about planting in your zone. Next, choose the color you like and see if the mature size is suited for the space you’ve chosen. Then, look for a climber that is disease-resistant, repeat-blooming, or whichever other “bonus” features are most important to you. We like the cheery yellow Smiley Face™ Climbing Rose variety for its hardiness, vigor, and low-maintenance requirements.

Growing conditions. Most all rose types need full sun; they thrive in loamy, well-drained soil and prefer a consistent drink of water: about an inch a week. Eastern exposure is ideal to protect the leaves from hot afternoon sun. Note: roses with wet feet are susceptible to all kinds of fungus. Black spot and other diseases can spread to your other rose plantings, so keep a clean planting site and take care not to overwater. Good soil drainage will help mitigate heavy soaking rains.

Maintenance of Climbing Roses

Training. Gardeners usually want a climbing rose to serve a functional purpose (act as a screen, frame a doorway, etc.) as well as provide visual beauty to the space. To that end, the stems need to be trained to grow the way you want them to. Air circulation is important to prevent disease, so if you want the climber to cover a wall, use a free-standing vertical support that gives your rose at least three inches of breathing room between the plant and the wall. With a stretchable fastener, hand-tie your climber to the crosspiece of the structure and try to arrange the branches in a fan shape as it grows. This will help to make pruning easier. It’s recommended that you train — do not try to heavily prune — for the first couple of years. This will encourage growth on the bottom of the plant, not just the tops, for a fuller appearance.

Pruning. Aside from sun, food, and water essentials, one thing you can do to turn your climbing roses into prolific bloomers is proper pruning. Pruning is only necessary once a year after the plants have been established. Many gardeners prune their climbing roses, for maintenance and shape, in the spring after the first blooms pass. As a result of proper pruning, your climbers will be significantly stronger and will produce many more blooms!

Note: Most climbing roses (hybrid teas) bloom two or more times every season: first on old canes, and then on the current season’s growth. If you prune in late winter (about the time forsythia blooms), you’ll get boatloads of blooms later in the season. For old-fashioned climbers that only bloom once in the summer, prune just after blooming has stopped.

When it’s time to prune, remove any dead, diseased, damaged, or crossing canes, and canes that are narrower than a pencil. When all you’ve got is main canes left, cut back the side shoots from these main canes to about 2-3 inches to keep them in line. The photo above shows the correct angle and place to cut on the cane.

Tip: Wipe your pruning tools with rubbing alcohol between each cut. This helps prevent the spread of disease when pruning, while also caring for your tools. After use, wash pruning tools with a mild soap, rinse, and towel-dry.

As always, deadhead your climbers to keep them blooming, but just until fall — allowing hips to develop helps the plant enter dormancy, which will help it overwinter properly.

Feeding. Fertilizer requirements differ, depending upon where you live and your individual soil composition. In the South or West, where roses tend to grow for 9 or 10 months of the year, more fertilizer may be needed. In contrast: in the North, where roses may have three or four months of growth, less fertilizer will be used.

  • Time-release rose food is the easiest form to use; all you have to remember is to apply it once or twice per season, and water before and after use to avoid burning.
  • Organic gardeners like a 50/50 mix of cottonseed and alfalfa meals. Use 10 cups of this mixture at the base of each rose every 10 weeks, and cover with mulch.
  • At Stark Bro’s we carry a rose mix that contains alfalfa meal, fish meal, cottonseed meal, blood meal, steamed bone meal, and other nutritious ingredients, while maintaining a low odor.

Start fertilizing in early spring after pruning, about four weeks before spring growth begins. In cold-winter regions, stop fertilizing six weeks before the first predicted frost to allow the plant to go dormant before a hard freeze.

Mulching and winterizing. Mulch is critical to keep rose roots evenly moist in the summer, and to protect them against hard freezing over the winter. Apply a layer of mulch, only a few inches thick, around roses in the spring – this may happen at planting time if you plant roses in the spring. Later in the fall, after the first frost, pile up more mulch around the plants to provide extra insulation. As the ground warms and thaws in the spring, gradually remove the excess mulch and leave a layer of mulch that is just a few inches thick again.

Care of Climbing Roses

Pest control. Roses seem to attract more insects than any other flower – beneficials and pests alike! Pests may chew and pit the leaves, wilt the petals, and burrow into the stems. You can nip pest problems in the bud with organic Insecticidal Soap — it acts quickly and on contact (not systemically) to get rid of common rose pests like aphids, scale, and whiteflies, with an all-natural solution. Note: pesticides don’t know the difference between beneficials and pests, so never use pesticides when bees or other beneficials are present.

Disease control. Roses are subject to black spot, anthracnose, and other fungal problems caused by a recipe of too much water, humidity, and heat. Some varieties are more disease-resistant like the bright magenta CanCan™ Climbing Rose, which makes for an easy-care plant – great for first timers! If your climbing roses do develop a fungal disease, a disease control spray like Bonide® Fung-onil™ Multi-Purpose Fungicide should be used. For a natural alternative in organic gardens, copper-based Bordeaux spray/dust is effective against mildews and other diseases.

Climbing roses are a unique twist to the traditional landscape – and since they take up very little ground space, you can enjoy growing your own climbers even if your space is limited. Now that you have the basics down, you’re ready to get started growing your own climbing roses this season!

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