Rambling Roses

At one time, I used to use the words climbing and rambling almost interchangably in relation to roses. I was aware that there were differences, but I couldn’t have told you what they were.

If you have a small well kept garden – a place for everything and everything in it’s place – then ramblers probably aren’t for you. A rambler likes to be free, allowed to climb, spread out, and it doesn’t take well to being contained. But if you have the room, then no climber can compete with those few glorious weeks of maginficent blooms that it gives every spring or early summer.

The Differences Between Climbers And Ramblers

In general ramblers tend to be once blooming rather than repeat. They also tend to be very vigorous and suitable for growing over old structures, up dead trees or along walls. While they only bloom once per season, often very early in the year, the display is magnificent… while it lasts, which may only be a few weeks.

Apart from the growth habit, the bloom tend to be smaller, more unkempt and in bunches. Fragrance can vary from very little to extemely fragrant. Colors are generally ligher shades… lots of whites and pale lemons or pinks, rather than bright reds or yellows. But there are always exeptions. There are many ramblers that look more like climbers, and climbers that look like ramblers.

Some Ramblers
One of the first ramblers I became familar with, is named Paul’s Himalayan Musk, and I found a video on youtube that shows this, along with a few others. Not only is it incredibly vigorous, it has fantastic fragrance. Another favorite is the banskia – there are two types, the yellow and the white.

Someday (when I have the room) I want to grow Albertine. I have always admired it, and it’s wonderfully fragrant. Ruffled unkempt blooms of pale pink, and a beautiful spring display. The flowers are also bigger than the typical rambler. Not too many thorns, although it might be better suited to the warmer drier climates due to a slight tendency to suffer from mildew.

Caring For, And Growing Ramblers

While you can train these to fit whatever your situation demands, I feel they are at their best when allowed to spread out, sprawl, climb trees and buildings. However, they are very accommodating if you want to train them along a fence, or clip them back hard after each flowering to keep them in check. Just remember that you only get a few weeks of blooming, so perhaps plant some repeat flowering climbers in the vicinity to give color for the rest of the summer.

A rambler is actually easier to train than a climber, due to having much more flexible and softer canes. It can easily be woven through fence palings, around posts and up old tree branches.

You don’t need to deadhead a rambler, which is a real bonus – one less task to perform. It will also give a wonderful winter display of bright red hips, which in my opinion more than makes up for the short flowering season. A rambler will often strike well from cuttings and grow quite happily on its own roots. So why not try to aquire a few cuttings this year, and introduce a few ramblers to your garden, if you don’t already have some?

Our Top 5 Picks: Ramblers to Try in Your Garden

1. Malvern Hills: This is a rarety with ramblers, a reliable repeat! Wondefully fragrant double blooms, pale apricot fading to off white. This makes it to the top of the list. A David Austin English rose.

2. Paul’s Himalayan Musk: Only single flowering, but what a show this puts on! Delightfully fragrant and with a wonderful display of hips through the winter. If you have the room to let this grow to full size then it won’t disappoint.

3. The Lady of The Lake: Another david Austin rose makes our top 5. This is another repeat flowering rambler. And like most of our picks, it has great frangrance. A beautiful soft pink semi double with golden centers, this has masses of blooms early in the season and repeats throughout the summer.

4. Veilchenblau: If you are looking for a lilac to lavender rambler, then this is the one to get. Smaller but very prolific flowers, very fragrant, and it is almost thornless. That makes it a great choice for arches or pergolas.

5. Albertine: The last in our list, Albertine makes the cut due to good frangrance and strong growth. Larger, ruffled pink double flowers, and very easy care. Not too many thorns.