You Can Have Any Colour, As Long As It’s Rose

Since the first batch of wine I ever made was very drinkable, I’ve done a second batch with more of the frozen fruit in the garage. I used most of my red gooseberries last time, so this time I mixed up what I had to get:

33% blackcurrant

58% redcurrant

9% oriental quince

I then added other ingredients based on ‘averaging’ the recipes for the different ingredients in my book. To be honest, most of them are more or less the same apart from the amount of sugar, so the book’s a bit repetitive. And speaking of sugar, I upped the sugar a bit since last time it was a bit dry for my taste, and the volume since it’s not much more effort to make 20 bottles than 6.

So far it all seems to be going well, the only disappointment is the colour. I thought the blackcurrants would have more impact, but so far it’s only a slightly deeper pink than the gooseberry wine. Like Ford used to say, you can have any colour as long as it’s rosé.

I’m looking forward to tasting it in time for Christmas! Fingers crossed the slightly loose interpretation of the recipe(s) works out.

Mixed fruit wine, with blackcurrants, redcurrants and quince

Mixed fruit wine, with blackcurrants, redcurrants and quince

More Flowers

I spotted a few more late flowers over the last few days. One is Evening Primrose, which I’m not sure should be flowering in October. The other is a final attempt at repeat flowering by the Kew Gardens rose I planted at the beginning of the year. It has single white flowers that open together in small heads.

Evening Primrose flower in early October

Evening Primrose flower in early October

 

Kew Gardens flower bud in early October

Kew Gardens flower bud in early October

 

Choosing Roses

So I’ve spent the last rose shopping. We just had some work done on the house to move an external door, and a plan to plant a climber where the door used to be has expanded into a project to cover up as much of the pebble-dash rendering as possible. We love a lot about our house, and it was a good compromise for us, but the external rendering isn’t one of the pluses.

My idea is to cut some holes for beds into the concrete driveway and then plant three climbing roses with smaller shrubby roses underneath for groundcover. I decided to go for roses because whatever covers up the rendering should be attractive, my wife wanted something scented, and I didn’t want anything likely to leave marks on the wall. Even climbing roses aren’t really true climbers, they’re sprawlers that need to be tied in place. It means more effort up front but less problems with removal or hacking them back.

The things I was looking for, the things the perfect rose for us would have, were:

  1. Thornless, or if thorned then flexible/trainable enough so family members and guests don’t get caught and shredded in passing
  2. Strongly scented
  3. Repeat flowering
  4. Single flowers and attractive to pollinators
  5. Good disease resistance, since I don’t plan on spraying
  6. For the climbers, growing big enough to cover most of a two storey wall (e.g. 4 – 5m), but not so vigorous that I need to be up a 5m ladder every month trying to stop it going over the top and engulfing the house
  7. Nice colour – white, pink, scarlet are good, yellow and orange are a much harder sell

Needless to say, it’s pretty hard to find any rose that meets all of those criteria. The harder ones are the thornlessness, which I basically gave up on, and the single flowers. Repeat flowering tends to be a property of highly bred roses, and many of those have also been selected for double flowers.

So, after much agonising I can now reveal the compromise to achieve something for both myself (wildlife friendly, nice colours) and the wife (scented, long flowering).

Climbers

The roses below go in order from largest and wildest to smallest and least wild (double flowers). All of the climbers are supposed to be strongly scented.

Rosa moschata

Rosa moschata, source: Wikipedia, by Arashiyama

This one is very much my choice. It’s basically a wild rose that flowers late but over a period of 2 – 3 months. It’s supposed to be very strongly scented, as in you can smell it tens of feet away, and very attractive to bees. I’ve seen conflicting reports about size and David Austin claim it needs a warm wall to hit 4 or 5m, so we’ll just have to see how it works out. Hopefully it can cover 10 – 15 m2 of wall if it can get high enough and spread horizontally as well.

The Lady of the Lake

The Lady of the Lake, source: David Austin

This one is is one we can both go for. It’s a highly bred, repeat flowering English rose, but the flowers are only semi-double so you can actually see the stamens and stigma. In the pictures it looks an attractive shade of pink. It should be a big less vigorous than r. moschata, and I thought we might train it around the bathroom window and over the door.

Tess of the d’Urbervilles

Tess of the d’Urbervilles, source: David Austin

This is very much not a wild rose in terms of flower shape. A bit fluffy for me in shape and probably useless for wildlife, but chosen for scent, colour, and lack of vigour. It can go against the single storey utility room wall.

Groundcover / Shrub Roses

Centre Stage

Centre stage, source: David Austin

A low growing groundcover rose. Single flowers, supposed to flower continuously over a long period. Probably not strongly scented.

Cambridgeshire

Cambridgeshire rose, source: David Austin

Another groundcover rose, repeat flowering. My wife loved the colours. I agree the mix of gold and orange looks really good, I just need to decide which climber to match it with. Supposedly not strongly scented.

Munstead Wood

Munstead Wood rose, source: David Austin

This one is more of a small shrub. Supposed to have a very strong scent, and it looks like a good colour match for Tess of the d’Urbervilles, or maybe it would look good under the pink Lady of the Lake. Double flowered.

So I guess the scores, based on available internet info, are:

Criteria Score
Thornless 0/6
Strongly scented 4/6
Repeat flowering 5/6
(Semi-)single flowering 3/6
Right size for the space 6/6
Nice colour 6/6

Which I guess means my priorities ended up being colour, size > repeating > scent > single flowering > thornlessness. I wish I’d been a bit more successful in finding single flowered varieties that also had the right size, repeat flowering and scent, but combining single flowers with repeat flowering in particular is pretty hard. For example, many ramblers, and especially the fairly common single flowering ones, do not repeat.

I’ll let you know in a year or two how it all works out…