Top 10 Cottage Roses

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Cottage rose

Best Cottage Roses

Roses have made a come back in Australian gardens as people discover the versatility, beauty and perfume of roses.

Mid winter is rose planting time so here is the Burke’s Backyard guide to some of those easy-to-grow cottage and climbing roses.

1: ‘Albertine’

Although a good gardening rose should be long-flowering, ‘Albertine’ is an exception. It is a wonderful plant that only flowers for around six weeks in spring to early summer. Its apricot buds open to pink with a hint of apricot. The flowers are soft, blowsy and literally smother the plant. The perfume is absolutely wonderful, just like Granny Smith apples. It is vigorous so if you’ve got a little archway over your path, don’t get this rose, it’s too large and very thorny. It is better suited to growing up a wall or over an old shed.

2: ‘Carabella’

This rose was bred in Australia and is good for a small archway or pillar. It has a fairly small single flower around 5cm (1.5-2″) in diameter. Perhaps its one failing is that the perfume is not strong. But the flowers are a glorious soft pink to white with wild rose yellow stamens. It’s very disease-resistant, making it a classic low-maintenance rose.

3: ‘Pierre de Ronsard’

A fantastic rose with an old-fashioned rose-style flower in soft pink and ivory. It flowers well for nine months of the year and despite its old-fashioned looks and apple perfume is a modern rose. It is similar to ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’, a genuine old-fashioned rose, but is longer flowering and less prone to diseases. It is ideal for growing on a pergola as it is not huge and is almost thornless.

4: ‘Bonica’

This truly wonderful rose is sold both as a shrub and a grafted standard. The colour is fabulous: the pink buds open to a slightly lighter than mid-pink and fade to icing pink. The individual flowers aren’t huge (6cm or 2.5″ across) but that is more than made up for by their sheer number and length of flowering. Its perfume has a slight hint of spice.

5: ‘Cécile Brunner’

If you want a rose that has that classic rose perfume like rose oil then the dainty ‘Cécile Brunner’ is for you. It is long flowering with sprays of small, ruffled, light pink flowers that have extremely pretty pink buds. Each flower has a long stalk, making it a good choice for picking for tiny cottage posies. The bush is strong and vigorous with glossy green leaves. This is a rose many people may remember from their grandmother’s garden (she may have called it ‘The Sweetheart Rose’).

Despite it being well known and much loved, ‘Cécile Brunner’ suffers from an identity problem as it is always given the wrong name. Everyone will tell you this is Cécil Brunner, named apparently for some bloke called Cécil. But it’s not, it is ‘Cécile Brunner’ named for a lady called Cécile who bred the rose more than 100 years ago.

The true ‘Cécile Brunner’ is normally only around a metre (3′) tall but for many years a large-growing form has also been sold as ‘Cécile Brunner’. This large form can reach 3-4m (10-12′) tall. As well there is a climbing version sold as ‘Climbing Cécile Brunner’, which has the same flowers but tends to only flower in spring.

6: ‘Crépuscule’

‘Crépuscule’ is a shrubby climber with small, copper-gold flowers that change with age. When they’re young the flowers are light orange but they fade to a deep cream with time. The word crépuscule means twilight, which describes the colour very well. The perfume is a good rose perfume with spicy overtones. The wonderful thing about this rose, apart from the fact it’s got almost no thorns, is that it flowers for most of the year – a good 10 months.

7: ‘Iceberg’

If you were to give an award for the greatest rose of all time there’s no doubt ‘Iceberg’ would be the winner. Due to its overwhelming popularity (it’s in just about every garden) it is sometimes accused of being overused. But it’s widely used because it’s one of the all time great garden plants. The flowers are a lovely ivory white, it’s got a good apple blossom perfume and it’s as tough as old boots. ‘Iceberg’ like most roses does best in full sun, but will take a little bit of shade. It is available as a bush or grafted into a ball on a stick. There is also a climbing form, ‘Climbing Iceberg’ and more recently ‘Pink Iceberg’. Apart from having lovely, dense arching foliage it also flowers for about 10 months of the year. If you only have room for one rose this is the rose for you.

8: ‘Penelope’

This flower is ivory with a hint of cream or even salmon developing as the flowers open to show their golden stamens. The perfume is as complex as the colour, it’s a nice rose perfume but there’s a hint of honeysuckle or honey. It has thick clusters of blooms through summer and then has another flush of flowers in autumn.

9: ‘The Fairy’

Although this is a miniature rose, and many miniature roses are very tricky to grow, ‘The Fairy’ is a beauty. It’s long flowering, hardy, has shiny green foliage and from spring to autumn carries clusters of petite pink flowers. Its low, spreading growth (generally less than a metre or 3′ tall) makes it a great border plant or a tall ground cover.

10: ‘La Sevillana’

This rose is often referred to as Red Iceberg as it has benefits of that rose but with beautiful, clear red flowers. The foliage is a good deep green, the plant is disease resistant and it’s long flowering – all the features you want in a rose. The perfume is there but it’s not overpowering. Due to its dense, spreading growth it is another good choice for a hedge and is simple to prune across the top. 

Honorable mention: ‘Seduction’

This glorious ivory white rose with its pink tipped petals is hardy, long flowering and has good green foliage. Its perfume is perhaps a little light. It’s grown as a bush or grafted as a standard and either way is very pretty.


Other good roses

There are many other good roses particularly in the David Austin group (also called English Roses), the roses that set out to combine old fashioned looks with modern repeat flowering and vigour.

Further information

Visit your local nursery now to buy roses for winter planting. Roses can be purchased nearly all year round but in winter they are sold as bare rooted plants. Prices range between $12 and $18 depending on the type of rose.

Specialist or mail-order rose nurseries: Bleak House Rose Nursery
Calder Highway (PO Box 43)
Malmsbury, VIC, 3446
Phone: (03) 5423 2427 Fax: (03) 5423 2738
Brundrett Road
Narre Warren North, VIC, 3804
Phone: (03) 9796 8305
Ross Roses
St Andrews Terrace
Willunga, SA, 5172
Phone: (08) 8556 2555
Swane’s Nursery
490 Galston Road
Dural, NSW, 2156
Phone: (02) 9651 1322 Fax: (02) 9651 2146
Contact these nurseries for a copy of their 1998 catalogue.

Further reading

For more information on rose care consult: Growing Roses by Valerie Swane (Kangaroo Press, 1992) The Ross Guide to Rose Growing by Deane Ross (Lothian Publishing,1990)

For more information on roses see the first issue (July 1998) of the Burke’s Backyard magazine, available in news agencies and some supermarkets.