Debutante Rambler Rose
Debutante Rambler Rose - Photo by Irene Roth



        Some of the older varieties, although mounding with incredible vigor were sensitive to disease such as mildew and blackspot and succumbed miserably by dropping leaves and leaving a sad skeletal looking cluster of bare branches. Thankfully today's hybridizers have worked diligently over the decades to produce high quality disease resistant varieties that do not disappoint with glossy healthy leaves, gorgeous fragrance and stamina over the long haul. There are many ramblers and climbing roses to source out from reputable nurseries that have all the attributes of great modern day healthy varieties; both suitable for homes with limited space horizontally but with great vertical options, places where perhaps some "cover-up" of unsightly areas is required, or simply to be trained up a column near a deck purely for the purpose of filling the intimate personal space with beautiful fragrance and colour. A shorter climber can even be grown in a very large container as long as it is given rose fertilizer at the beginning of every rose season in Spring.

        From personal experience I can recommend certain particular climbers and ramblers which I have been very pleased with over the years. Westerland is a lovely coppery spicy rose scented climber hybridized by Kordes. It has been around for a while but is still going strong. It climbs to about 6 feet but can be also pruned to form a fuller shrub. Dublin Bay is a gorgeous climber that we have filling out our fence. It is a true red and very hardy. It endures soggy ground, wind chill blasts in winter and keeps returning every Spring with eye catching red blooms. Growing over our garden entrance arbor is the 'old fashioned' climber Zepherine Drouhin, introduced to the rose world in 1868 and still very popular. Considered one of the most fragrant roses in the world this gorgeous pink bloomer does well even in partial shade. I have had this rose for over 10 years.

        There are also some climbers hybridized by David Austin that although many people grow as shrubs can also betreated and trained as climbers. The sumptuous tea scented yellow Graham Thomas and the peachy lemon meringue pie scented (considered from the noses of my children) Sweet Juliet both reach 6 feet on my south facing wall. Constance Spry is one of David Austin's earlier hydrids and a fantastic and vigorous climber. As seen by the photo, she loves to grow tall and sprawl over anything and everything. Every year there is just more of her to love and her many pink sumptuous full petalled myrrh scented blooms are a thing to behold. I must present my 'best for last' climber with a stunning photo to demonstrate how some climbers and ramblers can perform beyond their theoretical expectations. The peachy coppery flowered Leander is a climber, by definition, as it goes through an extrended glorious one time show each Spring but there are sometimes a few roses here and there over the summer months but these are few and far between. This rose is listed as a climber that grows up to 12 feet. However that must be the least expected maximum as my particular Leander has already crested over the roof of our 2 floor house at over 18 feet. It is a show and a car stopper as people actually slow down to gaze at her every late May/early June. Location may be everything in the case of this rose as she grows next to a septic field. Such might be the secret formula of success! But what it seriously does prove is that climbers and ramblers, like all roses, need to be planted in ideal soil (such as sea soil) and fed with proper rose fertilizer to perform to the expectation of healthy growth and generous bloom. With proper care and pruning climbers and ramblers will be enjoyed for many years, even decades.
(By Andrea Grant)

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