WITH their simple beauty and robust constitution, wild roses are often overshadowed by their showier, more flamboyant and longer flowering descendents. But as we enter bare-root planting season, it's well worth bearing in mind just how much a wild rose can add to a garden.
Known botanically as species roses, these were the original roses. They have been around for thousands of years, are revered by cultures all over the world and are the parents of every one of the hybrid roses you find in gardens today.
The genetic history of roses is a complicated one – cross-breeding has created a succession of long-flowering cultivars with ever-more voluptuous blooms. Wild roses, however, are roses in their simplest form. They generally produce thickets of growth and are covered in a fleeting flush of single flowers made up of five petals.
While most don’t repeat flower, their stunning hips more than make up for this, lighting up the autumn and winter garden with glowing red fruit. They’re also fantastic for wildlife – the summer flowers are loved by pollinating insects and the hips provide a food source for birds in the bleakest months of the year.
Used to holding their own in the wild, these are hardy, robust plants. They tend to be unfussy about soil conditions – as long as they’re not waterlogged – and are less prone to the pests and diseases that can be problematic for cultivated roses. Some, like the native dog rose, R. canina, are vigorous and need space to thrive; but there are lots of options that can be easily incorporated into borders.
Wild roses are thorny specimens – an adaptation that has served them well, protecting them from grazing predators while allowing them to scramble through other plants. This can be off-putting, but the spikes do have certain advantages: they make great hedges if you want to keep out unwanted visitors – whether human or animal. And the thorns of Rosa pteracantha are as beautiful as they are sharp – they look a bit like translucent, scarlet mini shark fins
Bare root bargains
Cheaper and with plenty of choice, bare roots roses are available now and, once planted, will establish quickly in the warm autumn soil. When shopping for something new this year, it definitely makes sense to consider a wild rose.
The best wild roses for...
Flowers are made up of hot pink petals that look like crumpled silk, arranged around golden stamens. They have a strong rose fragrance and give way to fat, red hips resembling tomatoes. A robust, healthy plant. H&S: 2m (7ft).
Also known as the burnet rose and long associated with Scotland. Makes a medium-sized bush covered in masses of creamy-white flowers from April to May, followed by blackish hips. Likes free-draining soil. H&S: 3ft (90cm).
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
How to deal with problem plants
There’s a range of popular ornamentals that can cause problems, says Tim Rumball
Why every garden needs Cotoneaster
The ultimate berried treasure, these useful shrubs offer so much more. They’re good for winter interest, wildlife, walls, hedging… pretty much everything, says Louise Curley
For early colour, plant Hellebores
Varied and versatile, these fail-safe flowerers combine a tough constitution with blooms in different colours and shapes, plus interesting foliage, says Tamsin Hope Thomson
A close encounter with a stag leaves Toby pondering the effects of lockdown on these magnificent creatures
Top of the crop
Struggling to decide which crops to choose? Bob looks at your best options, depending on site and time required
Make 2021 the year you Grow soft fruit
Delicious and nutritious, berries are brilliant entry level options for anyone new to fruit growing as they give a good crop in a small space, says Kris Collins
Hard-pruning your roses
A tough cut will send them shooting away, says Ruth
Focusing on perennials
There’s lots you can get on with now, says Ruth
Filling gaps in shared gardens
Anne Swithinbank's masterclass on: Low - Maintenance border gaps
Bring on the butterflies
After a poor butterfly count, Val looks forward to the next…
DRONE TOOLS Safely using autonomous flight modes
In the early days of aviation, as aircraft range and endurance increased, so did the fatigue experienced by pilots. Autopilots were invented in 1912, guiding aircraft to fly straight and level on a compass course and greatly reducing a pilot’s workload. For more than a century, autopilots have improved many aspects of aviation safety, but they have also created new problems.
Filling an Empty Space and Enhancing a Cabochon
I often look for a special feature within a slab when choosing the shape to cut into a cab.
Gluten-Free Apple Pie
CHINA LAUNCHES MISSION TO BRING BACK MATERIAL FROM MOON
China launched an ambitious mission on Tuesday to bring back rocks and debris from the moon’s surface for the first time in more than 40 years — an undertaking that could boost human understanding of the moon and of the solar system more generally.
Valley of the Sun
DOLLY'S $2M NIP /TUCK BINGE AT 75!
Head-to-toe remake before her birthday
Yoga Nidra for Releasing Grief
Go Seafood or Go Home
THE FIRST AMERICAN “SPORT HORSE” BREED
The very name of the American Standardbred reflects the performance requirement established at the inception of the breed. Here’s how genetics, conformation and training came together to create horses that could trot a mile in 2:30 or less, or pace it in 2:00 flat.
TURNTABLE MUSIC SYSTEM