My Favorite Roses

JUNE IS FOR ROSES, including the luscious, pink ‘Bonica,’ above. This one, and others, too, grow almost too well here at A Garden for the House. Would you like to see them? Here they are — along with a few cultural tips — in a click-to-enlarge photo gallery of color and perfume:

I have never met a hardier rose than the ‘Fairy.’ From June through frost this compact grower (3-4 tall and wide) produces spray after spray of tiny pink buttons against pale green foliage. Two fairy roses flank the south wall of my tool shed; another brings a great splash of pink to the steep bank in the Serpentine Garden. In each location the shrubs flourish in blazing, all-day sun and poor soil. I give them no attention whatsoever.

With its double, pure yellow cups and tea-rose scent, ‘Graham Thomas’ always invites comment. It looks well with the light pink ‘Baby Blanket’ rose at its feet, and the red, climbing ‘Blaze’ rose in the background. Because the canes of this David Austin creation are thin and weak, they drop to the ground just as the flower open. I find that an iron pillar set over the rose at planting time keeps matters upright.

‘Crown Princess Margareta,’ above, is another David Austin beauty. The large rosettes of bloom are painted apricot-orange. These emit a strong, fruity fragrance, especially when the early morning dew is upon them. Crown Princess Margareta of Sweden was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria and an accomplished landscape gardener. Together with her husband, who later became King Gustavus VI Adolfus of Sweden, she created the famous Swedish Summer Palace of Sofiero in Helsingborg.

Save for the climbing ‘Blaze,’ the only other red rose in my garden is Austin’s ‘L.D. Braithwaite.’ This one has a cheery crimson coloring; it looks best against a green background, here provided by a weeping pine. The slightly cupped blooms offer little fragrance at first. With age, however, they develop a rich, old-rose scent.

‘Mary Rose’ is one of my better repeat-bloomers. The deep pink flowers afford a strong perfume of honey and almond.

Climbing ‘Tahitian Moon’ is a marvel. Blossoms open lemon-yellow, and later develop measles-like pink spots. No scent, but a joy to behold.

I can’t think of a more ravishing rose, nor a more useful plant to cover an eyesore (like my tool shed), than ‘Zephirine Droughin.’ Blossoms of purple-pink, a citrus-scent that carries for yards, and the ability to bloom even in partial shade are this exuberant climber’s three great attributes.

With the exception of ‘The Fairy,’ which thrives without fuss, all of my roses receive regular attention. This means deep watering once each week, and monthly feeding with an organic formula. (Update: Back in 2010, when I wrote this post, I tried Bonide Fruit Tree Spray on a few of my roses in an effort to thwart the Japanese beetle. But Bonide is nasty stuff. I’ll never useΒ it again!)

Is there a particular rose in your own garden that makes you swoon? I’d love to hear about it.

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Related Posts:
From Parking Lot to Rose Garden
How to Deadhead Roses for Repeated Bloom
What To Do in June


  1. Kevin, I'm crazy about New Dawn. I know you grow this one, too. It doesn't repeat-bloom well for me beyond June. But its first flush of flowers is truly AWESOME.

  2. Justin – yes, New Dawn. A magnificent climber.

  3. Beautiful roses, Kevin! I have several hybrid teas (not the easiest plants to grow), and among them my favorite is Abraham Lincoln. It is an old fashioned red rose and very, very fragrant. Japanese beetles love it too and devour the poor thing in July. It usually comes back in mid August, though, and keeps setting buds until frost.

  4. David Austin's pinkish white 'Heritage' is my own favorite. It just gets bigger and better with every year. I spray the beetles with a contact insecticide whenever I see them, or else they chew up all the unopened flower buds.

  5. Adele – Abraham Lincoln is a fine, fragrant rose. Unfortunately I have never had luck with hybrid teas. My own 'Queen Elizabeth' struggles to survive in my garden!

    Carol – I too have 'Heritage.' Did you know that David Austin once commented that his was his favorite rose?

  6. Hi Kevin,

    When I first discovered Zephirine 4 years ago, I searched all over Canada to find it. I found it at a nursery close to Montreal, where we live. After 3 bus changes (we don't drive!), in a cold rainy day in May we finally bought our Zephirine. It flowered the same year. We loved the fragrant, the form and color.
    The year after nothing; only branches and leaves. So Last year, I transplanted it in a full sun location. I was not impressed by it's root system, compared to a 1-year-old New Dawn, which I transplanted the same year.
    It was the only rose that didn't flower. So, I went a bit drastic on it. In autumn, I dug it up and replanted with its crown at a 6-inch depth. I covered it's branches with 6 inches of leaves, covered it with jute and told it sink or swim!
    Now when I see your magnificent Zephirine, I wonder if I need to replace it with a new one, that this one is just finished.
    Could you give me some advice? Do you cut yours down in winter, do you protect it?
    Also, is this a myth that Zephirine flowers on old wood ?
    I'd appreciate any insight.

  7. Bob – sorry to hear about your pains with Zephirine. Are you by any chance pruning your rose in the fall? If so, that's a no-no in cold climates like ours. Always wait until buds appear in spring to accomplish pruning.

    Zephirine thrives on the south wall of my garden shed, where it receives 4-5 hours of sun each day. I bend its long canes horizontally, and then tie them to wire attached to the shed wall. This forces new, flowering stems to sprout along the canes.

    I always plant my roses so the root graft (the little knob just above the roots) is buried 3 inches below soil level. Otherwise Zephirine receives no winter protection here.

    Are you growing your rose against a structure that would permit you to train its canes laterally?

  8. Hi Kevin,

    Thanks for your answer.
    I pruned it only the 1st year in autumn and only the branches that had bore flower.
    Since then, i.e. 3 years ago, I've been forced to cleanup all the dieback in spring.
    I also realized that Montreal is in USDA zone 4, which corresponds to Canadian zone 5. I got muddled up with the zones. Maybe that's why it is not thriving here. It is a zone too cold πŸ™

    As for the training, I was so desperate that I planted it in the place it would receive the most sun (6 hours), however it's sprawling all over the place as there is no fence, trellis etc.
    If the fence is necessary, that means, I've got to transplant it, again this spring.
    Thanks again,

  9. Bob – Do you have Rosa 'Bonica' in your garden? It is hardy in USDA zone 4. In my garden (see first photo above), it blooms and blooms from early May through late October. It is a shrub, not a climber. No fragrance that I can detect.

    'Iceberg' is also hardy in your region. I have the shrub-type, but it is also available as a climber. Extremely fragrant!

    Then there is the good ole 'Fairy'…also hardy where you are.

  10. Hi Kevin,
    No, we don't have any of the roses you mentioned.
    I've taken note of them, if we find some space in our modest garden. we'll consider them for sure!
    The Bonica reminds me of New Dawn, which ours has been quite generous, being only a 2 year old plant ☺
    What I don't understand is why a much tender climber like, Night owl (USDA 6), which we prune severally and cover each autumn, flowers magnificently each year (actually the reflush is more impressive than the first bloom) and why the Zephirine has refused to flower for the past 3 years? Are the buds formed on the old wood, which doesn't survive normally here?
    Thanks again,

  11. Bob – It turns out Zephirine is a rambler. Ramblers flower on old wood. This explains why mine blooms so profusely — I never prune it. Well, I do cut canes that have fallen over a path, but that's all.

    Try leaving your Zephirine alone for a year and see what happens. It will probably bloom for you. It really need a support of some kind — a wall, a post, a fence.

  12. Hurray! Finally I have the confirmation why it didn't flower previously. Thank you!
    I hope my winter protection for this year worked. If the old wood is alive I'll get flowers and if not there is no point in keeping it. For the time being it's under 5 feet of snow. Sigh! Anyway if I've got good news, I'll post a message on this page.
    Thank you again Kevin.

  13. Bob, If you're happy, I'm happy! Do let us know if Zeph blooms for you this June.

  14. Jacqueline says:

    My favorite is my Mister Lincoln rose that I planted to honor my father. It has the true rose fragrance that makes you swoon and think of your loved ones.

  15. Jacqueline – You are right — Mister Lincoln is among the loveliest, and most fragrant, of the red, hybrid tea roses. How I would love to have it in my garden.

    Unfortunately, tea roses do not perform well here in the Hudson Valley. The high heat and humidity seems to weaken them. Consequently they become prey for every conceivable pest and disease.

    You are lucky to live in the Northwest, where summers are cool. Your hybrid tea roses seem to flourish without too much fuss!

  16. Betty819 says:

    I love that Bonica rose and have been wanting one of those garden pillars that I keep seeing in gardening catalogs. That might have to go on my wish list for 2012! Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos and great information about them.

  17. Hi Kevin,

    FInally Zephirine flowered. It was only for a week of glory. But it was well worth it after 3 years of waiting πŸ™‚
    But as Zephirine has no re-flushes, I've decided to say goodbye to it.
    And planting something more free flowering and generous and less labour intensive πŸ™‚
    On antoher note. I have heard that neem oil mixed with insecticidal soap and water can deter a wide range of insects including the Japanese beetle.
    I tried it on my white roses this year, as I have had thrips for the past 2 years and it worked. You can give it a test trial on some of your roses, maybe it works πŸ™‚

    Good Luck!

  18. Bob – I'm sorry Zephirine didn't match your expectations. Can I recommend David Austin's 'Gertrude Jekyll'? Super fragrant, and a great re-bloomer here. 'New Dawn' is a terrific, if aggressive climber. If promptly deadheaded after the first flush, it produces a respectable second show in late September/October.

    Thanks for the Japanese beetle reminder. They are due any moment. I'll have to give the neem oil/insecticidal soap a try.

  19. Thanks for the recommendations Kevin. I actually have a New Dawn. It is only three years old, and has finally reached the top of our arbor πŸ™‚
    As for the Austin Rose, I was so impressed and enthused by your favorite rose page, that I got an Abraham Darby this year, but I definitely will give Miss Jekyll some thought.
    I am intrigued by Aloha. I've heard it's a reliable re-bloomer and very fragrant. I have a soft spot for Work of Art a climbing miniature rose, even thought it scentless.

  20. onafixedincome says:

    Folks, there are no roses as hardy as the ones fed with worm castings and rabbit poo. πŸ™‚ Ask me how I know…LOL…I’m in zone 8, so have a bit more leeway than those in colder climes.

    (Those that do should consider the more cold-hardy roses that were developed up in …was in Nebraska, or North Dakota? Anyway, they rock!)

    Strongly suggest searching and ; they’re both fantastic rose-research sites, and I spend an inordinate amount of time there, just drooling. πŸ™‚

    Almost any scented grandiflora, but Brandy is a true standout that has proven toughness to below freezing (but we only got to 8*F) with no protection. Deep peach and bronze paling to glorious pale peach at full blow. Incredible scent; plant near a window you often open.

    Lagerfeld A light mauve with classic purple-rose spice scent that can knock you flat on a hot day.

    Dublin Bay–fantastic deep red climber that has it all–vigor, stamina, scent and gorgeous red hips in fall if you don’t deadhead the last flush.

    Oddly, I loved my tiny Trumpeter despite its lack of scent. Bright orange-red on a very small bush (less than 2′ at its best), it cheered up every vase.

    Fantastique is one I would love to have in future along with a list including such gorgeous things as Perfect Moment (red/yellow bicolor), Gingersnap (intense orange), Just Joey (apricot-buff), Apricot Nectar, Heirloom (purple), Paradise (picoteed purple), Gruss an Coburg (another peach/apricot buff), Scent-Sation (peach on yellow), Sutters Gold, Sheila’s Perfume….

    I love Vintage Gardens and hope everyone goes there to at least browse, and order if they can–they’re going to go under soon if we don’t! πŸ™

  21. onafixedincome – Worm castings and rabbit poo are blessings for all plants! The roses you described sound sensational, and I’ll certainly pay a visit to Vintage Gardens (dot) com.

  22. I love the David Austin Roses. Gertrude Jekyl has a wonderful scent. I also have anumber of the others you mention and they continue to flourish despite the bane of black spot and beetles. have you any experience with the Paul McCartney Rose? I love this rose and it is extremely easy to grow. I even had it survive after being uprooted in a terrible storm (we had had our sidewalk replaced which probably resulted in it’s coming loose in heavy winds) and after being put back in its spot, with fingers crossed, it returned the next year. It has a heavenly scent too! Most of my hybrid teas have short lives too. I live in the Philadelphia PA area so we have humidity and heat too.

  23. I love roses ~ a passion that my grandfather inspired as some of my first memories as a child were that of my grandfather and his beautiful roses! My husband and I have moved to a fair bit of land and I have been able to start my own rose garden this year with many thanks to you for inspiration and helpful tips on your site!! (we have also benifited from milk jug seedling for our garden as well- what a savings- thank you!). I live in a southern climate so the hybrid tea roses do quite well here and they were also my grandfater’s specialty. Among the favorites are the peace, tropicana, forty-niner and Love. I have also found a Chicago peace which is a quite beautiful too! Thanks for all the advice and inspiration ~ I look forward to your emails every single week!!

  24. I have 3 John Davis’ they flank my entrance on an arbor to my rasied bed garden and the 3rd one is on the front of our house. IAnother of my favorites is Paul’s Hymalayin (not sure of spelling) this is such a pretty rambler very thorny tender her in zone 4. I put a large tarp over it last year as it blooms on old wood. It has very tiny roses in clusters and is a very pale pink.
    I have to say I love all my roses.

  25. My super favorite rose, ok, I do have more than one so I will list them for you. First and foremost the one that blooms first and lasts until December is my antique rose Pearl D’Ore. Whenever someone comes over they always ask about the heavenly rose fragrance! It is huge, I’ve recently trimmed it back, and it is still in the huge pot that I planted it in when we moved 8 years ago. We kept thinking that we would be moving so I just left some of my roses in pots! The next one is a rose called Euton. You hardly see it anymore. It looks like a bouquet of red roses. My 95 year old grandmother (she’s still living, bless her! she is a good gardening source for me) had trimmed hers and thrown the trimmings down the hill. I brought them home, and just stuck it in the dirt. It grew! My next one is called Ispahan. I love that one too. I used to have about 38 roses until we moved, and then I lost quite a few of them. Looks like we will be here for a while though, and as long as my roses are happy where they are they will remain just that way.
    I love, love your blog. I just found it through someone on fb in reference to your winter sowing. I love it! I do have an unheated greenhouse that I use, but I love the winter sowing and all the references for your seeds. Look forward to reading more, and I will do a link on my blog to all of your wonderful posts!

  26. Kevin,
    So lovely to know you grow Rosa ‘The Fairy’ too. It has grwon in my zone 6 garden in southern Ontario for many years and I recommend it to anyone who will listen. Another beauty is Morden ‘Centennial’ and two years ago I had 450 blooms on this upright, disease resistant, fragrant beauty. It is a rose developed in Morden, Manitoba, so it should be hardy for you in zone 5. A tip for this season, I apply 1/3 cup of Epsom salts around the feet of each rose just about this time each year. It does seem to keep them healthy.
    Look forward to your bulletins every week. Keep up the great writing.

  27. Henrietta says:

    I too have fairy rose which along with my robin hood, teresa bugnet,William bafin rose, robin hood and a fragrant red rose that came with the farm (whose name I do not know) that I do not epecially do anything for except trim I also have a zephirine drouhin rose These roses do the best for me I mainly have them on the west side of the house

  28. Sybil Strawser says:

    David Austin’s Munstead Wood is my current favorite. Planted April 1 2013 and bloomed repeatedly until frost with minimal disease problems in my no spray garden. . Rich velvety dark red tinged with amethyst at times and a decadent perfume to die for! <3

  29. I have lots of favorites, but they have to be fragrant and repeat bloomers. I love my JULIA CHILD so much I have two – and that’s saying a lot for a rosarian with limited space. Deep yellow, fragrant, tough as a boot, and blooms its ever-lovin’ head off. For a white rose, you can’t beat ICEBURG. For soft shades of apricot/blush, CAROLYN HAIRSTON, FELICIA, MARIE VAN HOUTTE, and PERLE d’OR are breathtaking BLUE GIRL, WILD BLUE YONDER AND ANGEL FACE – all shades of lilac. TRUMPETER is not so fragrant, but its orange-red color is so intense it almost sizzles. And, of course, Teddy Roosevelt’s favorite (he wore one in his lapel every morning, so they say) – DUCHESSE DE BRABANT. An excellent source is Antique Rose Emporium in Brenham, Tx.

  30. Darlowe’s enigma- gives large trusses of small white fragrant flowers that repeat all.summer-disease free. It is a large thorny climber.
    Jude the obscure- very fragrant peach David Austin shrub.

  31. Penelope says:

    Julia Child Rose, as Bett mentioned, is an absolute stunner from Mid-June to Mid-October in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts and it blooms in morning full sun with afternoon part shade. I tell everyone about the Julia Child Rose because it’s just marvelous! It’s my only serious rose (I have two others from the grocery store that I barely pay attention to), but I’m going to branch out and buy three of the ones that you’ve written about in your blog: Bonica, Zepherine Drought, and, maybe, Blaze.

    Thank you!


  32. Kevin, I’m a David Austin fan also. You should try “Abraham Darby” rose. The beauty and fragrance is superb. I also have “Heritage”,”Margareta”, Blaze and New Dawn. Plan on more. I have a small yard but still think I have room for more. I have found worm castings to be a benefit to my roses, vegtables, etc . I also put ground eggshells in the planting hole of my tomatoes. All are thriving beautifully. I find your newsletters enjoyable and informative. I live in Wisconsin. Judy

  33. Robbie Perk says:

    Hi Kevin–I was looking for an Euton rose. Do you know anything about this rose and where I might could find one. I look forward to your answer as I was told my Uncle Michael Euton created this. He has been deceased for many years and I just found out about his accomplishment. Thank you, Robbie Euton Perk

  34. Hi Robbie Perk – I’m not familiar with the Euton rose, and a quick Google search did not turn up anything. You might like to check with the American Rose Society ( as well as the United States Patent Office. Good luck with your search!

  35. I loved seeing the photo of Zephirine Droughin in your garden. I have just planted one at each end of my front porch with the vision in my head of them growing upward and then across the top to meet in the middle. They’ve only been planted a month, only half a meter in height yet, and they are both covered in blooms and buds.

  36. I love Jude the Obscure for it’s delicate bowl shaped blooms and it’s magnificent fragrance.

  37. Annie Guss says:

    I bought Tiffany at a sale last year and was so delighted with its color, shape (grandiflora) and smell that I bought a second one, even later in the season. I believe it’s no longer under patent, so pretty good price.

  38. Jody Mandel says:

    Dear Kevin,
    Bonide Fruit Tree Spray has malathion in it. A neurotoxin. Very harmful to bees and other wildlife. You said you eat the rose petals. Aren’t you concerned about eating rose petals sprayed with malathion? I read that it is mildly toxic to humans, but still….
    Just trying to be safe.

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