When I was in England in June, one thing that I really noticed was how many people had plants growing up the front walls of their houses. In the villages and small towns, it was rare to see a house with bare walls. From whitewashed Tudor cottages to modern double-storey brick, they all supported climbers. Back at home, I wondered why we don’t do the same here. I know that some of the easiest climbing plants, like ivy, are hard to keep under control and can get into gutters, but climbing roses are much better-behaved and they were everywhere in England. Especially red climbing roses.
So why not here? I don’t know the answer, but I’m going to do something about it in my own backyard. Actually, I’m starting in the front yard. There is a section on the front of my house that has a small garden bed along it. It’s three metres long and less than a metre deep. At the moment it has a sick Tangelo tree at one end and an arch with a variegated Star Jasmine at the other. The rest is covered with Convolvulus mauritanicus which has been infiltrated by Periwinkle (Vinca major). I had already decided to get rid of the Tangelo. It is in too much shade and it’s really too cold in winter for it to do well. I like the Convolvulus, which covers the ground well and flowers with blue saucers all summer.
I’m picturing digging out the Periwinkle, leaving the Convolvulus and the Jasmine, and growing a red climbing rose on the wall. If it does well, I might even try growing a Clematis through it. Excited by my idea, I’ve been looking up red climbing roses. I’m thinking of Dublin Bay, although it might be too tall at 3 to 4 metres. But the information I have says the foliage is healthy and attractive, and it is seldom without a flower. Or there’s Red Pierre de Ronsard, which is a really romantic looking rose and supposed to be very healthy, even in a bit of shade. Or I might use Fourth of July, which I already have on an arch in the backyard, and which I love. It has red flowers with random white stripes.
Whatever I decide, I will have a red rose climbing up the house wall, a little bit of England in Australia.