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Climbing Roses

Q.We want to grow rambling/climber roses over wide arches but wish to also combine an evergreen climber for winter interest?

Zone Southwold in Suffolk - we have very dry and light soil no clay unfortunately | Maureen Davison added on July 6, 2019 | Answered

We want to make about three wide and high arches the main design feature of our garden scheme. We have noticed on the David Austin site they don’t feature wooden arches and use all simple metal arches. We want to use the old English type roses so realise these arches will need to be wide and high – what proportions would you suggest? We are keen to use some other climber type evergreen plant to bring interest to the arches and maybe give interest to the wild birds at same time. We obviously don’t want anything that will end up being too heavy that will end up taking over too much from the roses. If you have knowledge of the David Austin catalogue and have any suggestions to make in the white or pink range I’d be extremely grateful or of course any other suggestions to help us would be very helpful.

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Answered on July 7, 2019

The metal arches hold up better with far less care. Some of the copper ones get a real nice greenish patina to them after being in the weather for a while. For heavy climbers, the wood needs to be at least 2 inches thick in its least dimension. Seal the joints in the assembly well so the weather does not cause quick damage and ruin them. The Austin Roses are all very good choices. A personal favorite for such use would be Crown Princess Margareta. Depending on what color scheme you like, The Pilgrim is a hardy yellow. Tess of the d’Urbervilles is a gorgeous crimson eye-catcher. Strawberry Hill is a wonderful rose pink with wonderful fragrance as well. Check them out on the Austin Roses website, there are many nice ones. I honestly would not plant anything else with them that would climb the same arches, as the competition for light, water and food would limit the performance of both. For something of interest over the winter, perhaps buy some artificial vines that have red berries, pine cones and holly leaves that could be draped over the arches and removed in early Spring. You could intertwine some tiny LED twinkle lights or rope lights with the artificial vines that provide a nice touch for the winter evenings. Just a thought.

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