Welcome to the first in our series of Ask Philip blogs. Phillip Harkness is our rose breeder and has been working with roses his entire life. This month we asked him:
What would your top 5 roses for a modern English rose garden be and why?
Thanks for an impossible question! I am consistent in not having favourites, they change day by day.
This morning I am especially fond of the following varieties:
Chawton Cottage is a climbing rose, having good health and utter beauty in the flower. Ten petals opening wide with a pearl pink bloom that posses a deep red eye. Blooming in great density for a long period it is visually unrivalled for beauty and originality.
Chandos Beauty is a bush rose with lots of vigour and big flowers with a high pointed centre in a pale pink to peach shade. It is astoundingly popular, and if you don’t have one or many you are missing out. The perfume is just about the best, the plant strong and reliable.
Natasha Richardson another bush rose, producing flowers in clusters. The blooms have a multitude of petals all unfurling from the centre in what appears to be a beautiful, structured chaos. A simple colour, rose pink with an unusual perfume based on citronella. A great garden plant.
Susie is a patio climber with a massive perfume. She makes a plant that only understands how to look outstandingly beautiful. Young foliage is deep red, mature foliage is a luxuriant glossy dark green. Flowers start to open,and the outer petals lead you to expect a reddish pink bloom, but as they open the colour becomes a golden yellow, with that strong perfume. The flowers fade to a creamy white and petals fall, and then she will repeat the performance.
Simple White is a shrubby bush rose making a lovely wide plant. The colour is white. Not any old white, but a white that makes any washing powder company exceedingly envious. Dazzingly bright white. The blooms open wide, the pollinators love them. A cluster of flowers may be 15 to 25 blooms, in Summer and Autumn. If you need to see a splash of white this is somewhat better than outstanding.
Look out for Ask Philip in February!