Compact climbing roses

These repeat-flowering performers are ideal for small gardens

Climbing Roses - shutterstock_103838252.jpg

We’re all easily seduced by the romantic notion of entering our home beneath a sweetly-scented climbing or rambling rose arcing gracefully over the doorway. The reality is that with space often at a premium not all of us are able to achieve the dream. But there are plenty of rose varieties that will transform a patio wall or fence, or an arbour or gazebo, without risk of rampant growth swamping or weighing down the structure.

If there is no soil in which to grow them they can be easily accommodated in larger pots and containers and attached to trellis on walls or the structure of an arbour. Many have been specifically bred to be smaller, with breeders such as Shropshire-based Chris Warner producing ‘Lady Penelope’, ‘Little Rambler’, ‘Open Arms’ and ‘Summertime’ in the last 30 years, among many other notable varieties. Although having a smaller habit, characteristics such as health, vigour and repeat flowering have not been compromised. Many also possess good fragrance, although some are stronger than others, so it pays to choose when in flower if this is a critical factor for you.

Roses can be established either as bare-root plants when dormant from November to mid-March, but at other times need to be established as pot grown plants. The nurseries identified below are able to supply either. Roses need moist, well-drained soil to establish, with a position in sun to semi-shade, while some such as ‘White Star’ are able to tolerate shady conditions, such as found on a north wall. When growing in pots use John Innes No3, with additional grit or Perlite added for drainage rather than multipurpose compost. Final containers should not be smaller than 38cm (15in) in diameter otherwise they will not be able to achieve their ultimate size and spread.

Prune and train the plants in late winter, butting out unruly shoots and removing thin, wispy growth. Feed with chicken manure pellets when plants start into growth and liquid feed with a high potash fertiliser when flower buds are produced.