Plants - Roses

Groundcover roses thrive just about anywhere and bloom all season long.

The floribunda rose 'City of Belfast' (Zone 4, semi-double, 60 centimetres high, 90 centimetres wide) is a healthy, ever-blooming plant with scalloped, slightly scented, scarlet-orange to blood red flowers. Its cousin, 'City of Leeds' (Zone 4, double), is similar in size, with deep salmon-pink blooms borne in clusters. 'Essex' (Zone 5, single, 60 centimetres high, 120 centimetres wide) is a Danish shrub rose with large clusters of medium pink flowers and a dense trailing habit, continuously in bloom. Also in the shrub rose category, 'Lavender Dream' (Zone 4, 60 centimetres high, 90 centimetres wide) is a semi-double, lavender-pink rose with growth habits similar to 'Essex'. A dwarf Scotch rose (R. pimpinellifolia), 'William III' (Zone 4, 45 centimetres high, 90 centimetres wide), works well as a front-of-the-border groundcover. Its small, greyish leaves and semi-double, dusty maroon flowers are followed by ornamental, chocolate brown hips.

And saving the best for last, if you select roses by following your nose, these plants are the sweetest-smelling choices. The shrub rose 'Cardinal Hume' (Zone 5, very double, 90 centimetres high, 120 centimetres wide) has lush, cupped petals of ecclesiastical crimson-purple and a divine fragrance. The essence of Musk roses has long been included in love potions, and you can cook one up with 'Queen of the Musks' (Zone 4, 90 centimetres high, 90 centimetres wide). Its pink-blended, double flowers offer deeply perfumed moments to unbalance the gardener's equilibrium. David Austin, the rose-breeding master of Old World scent in New Age plants, offers his mother's namesake, 'Lilian Austin' (Zone 4, 90 centimetres high, 120 centimetres wide). Its large, double blooms are a celestial-and not garish-blend of pink, lemon and orange captured from the sunset sky and are, of course, highly scented.

• Dig planting holes 45 to 60 centimetres deep and wide. Set the graft or bud-union five centimetres below the soil surface. Plant deeper in colder regions if roses are less hardy.
• Replace garden soil in the hole with two parts high-quality loam, one part coarse sand, one part rotted manure.
• After planting, keep the soil consistently moist, watering deeply once a week-more frequently if necessary-preferably using a soaker hose. Never allow the soil to dry out during summer droughts.
• Conserve soil moisture and keep weeds down with organic mulch. Spread five to eight centimetres of finely shredded bark or tree leaves over the soil surface, and replace the mulch as it composts down. Avoid wood chips or rough mulches that can harbour fallen and diseased foliage.

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