Roses on Exmoor

I am a bit of a rose nut – which can be a challenge in our rather wet Exmoor garden and for some reason I have over 25 different types of roses , which as my garden is not huge some may view as a mistake – my husband falls into this category.

However, I like the variety, and as a result there is always a rose in bloom from late May to early November.

The wet in Exmoor can lead to lots of rust and black spot on leaves – and as I don’t like spraying plants I am trying to work out what roses work well for me in this situation. Someone told me that the shinier and smaller the leaves the better resistant to wet weather diseases – so I will also comment on the leaves as well as the flower. The colour and shape of the leaves can also be a factor in choosing a rose, as these are what you will look at for much of the year.


Here are some of my favourites – along with the slightly dud ones. Bare in mind these are all comments relating to a wet, quite high situation on Exmoor, and if your experience of them is different I’d love to know.



1. Number 1 has to be Gentle Hermione – a David Austin rose – which has large pale pink flower in a cup shape & a glorious scent, it repeats all summer and the leaves are pretty robust despite being pale green & ‘un-shiny’. It can become a bit leggy so needs careful pruning. (pic 1)

Gentle Hermione

2. Gertrude Jekyll – has large, strong pink flowers in a more open shape, and is an excellent repeater all summer, with a good scent. The leaves are also pale green & ‘un-shiny’, but have good disease resistance. The shape of the plant bushes out well. This rose always looks so cheerful, it makes me smile. I had bought this  to be a  medium size climber – but it’s not really showing any signs of being one, maybe in time. (p2)

Gertrude Jakyll

3. Generous Gardener – my favourite scent of all my roses – gloriously delicate and sherberty. The flower is similar in shape and colour to Gentle Hermione – but I find its leaves are more prone to rust & black spot.

4. White Star – no great scent, but what a repeater, a medium size white flower with an open shape,  that opens to reveal its yellow centre.  Absolutely NO sign of any rust or black spot on it’s robust dark green shiny leaves. Bushes out well, but does not achieve much height. Flowers from May to well into late September, repeating robustly.

White Star

5. Lady Silvia – climber -  a pale pink to apricot large open flower. A good repeater with average scent. Shooting up my sunny wall, it’s  2 metres high after planting it this time last year. Large pale green leaves – pretty good disease resistance, though a bit of rust & blackspot this year.

Lady Silvia

6. Rosa Galica – this comes out just once but it lasts a month and the pink, heavenly scented flowers cover everypart of it. Along with Gentle Hermione this is my favourite rose. The pale green leaves also look good. As there are so many flowers each year this is a great rose to have to harvest rose petals from to make rose oil. Annoyingly I cannot find the name of this rose, but here is a picture of it in case anyone can tell me.




Climbers & Ramblers

As with most ramblers the ones we have planted have literally rambled away and year after year get better and better, even though out only once a year the show they put on is worth it.

Wedding Party is my favourite one as the flowers start white then fade to a pale pink and last a good month. We planted it to climb up an old apple tree and it comes out just as the apple blossom has gone.

Rambling Rector – beautiful little white flower, but not out for long.

Sadly our Kiftsgate has not done well as we’ve put it to climb up an evergreen and it’s not happy.

Planted May Queen at the end of last summer & already going strong, though am disapointed to see black spot on the leaves – it'll be interesting to see if it’ll swamp the arch & building it’s planted next too.

Wild dog rose – I bought a few bare roots of these a few years back – just spindly single whips and I planted one to go up an arch and it has thrived – so much so that in the  Spring storms of 2014 my rather insubstantial arch collapsed. I love this rose as the small pink flowers give way to stunning small red hips in the autumn which are the best ones to use for Rose hip jelly & syrup. My new stronger arch is covered with them. And the leaves are in perfect shape – obviously well suited to England’s damp weather.

Super Fairy – this is a climber version of the well known Fairy. We planted it to cover an ugly oil tank and it has to fight against nettles and brambles, but year after year it keeps on going.  Lovely pale pink clusters of small flowers, great to cut its long stem for vases. It keeps going all summer, but the disadvantage of this is it is quite fiddly to dead-head, so sometimes the ‘gone-over’ flowers don’t look great.

High Hopes – this has done well, but I didn’t like the shape it was forming on the wall so I dug it up and planted it at the back of the garden leaving it to chance and it has survived, so obviously very hardy – with its pink flowers and leaves looking great, and its shape does not bother me where it is.

New dawn – I’ve just planted this after recommendations from a local garden designer who also hates spraying – saying ‘life’s too short’ – so let’s see how it goes.


East facing positions:

On a sunny east facing wall we planted Old Blush China – I wanted this as the shape it forms on a wall is very pretty, unfortunately it did not thrive, I did not do my research properly! We replaced it with Graham Thomas, which is starting to do well. I love its cheerful yellow flowers that fade to almost white. This was my mothers recommendation, as she has a huge, healthy one in Sussex, and so far so good.

Again in an east facing site I’ve planted Constance Spry – I did my research this time – but after a year its not looking great, I will feed it and see how it goes, but it may need replacing.

My final east facing rose is a classic white Iceberg – this has scrambled up through a honeysuckle and just keeps sending out flowers all summer, although it’s leaves are not great the honeysuckle hides them well!



Mortimer Sackler – has lots of dark pink med size open flowers,  that repeats, but the leaves are not great. However this is my mother-in-laws favourite rose so it must do well in other locations.

Friar Cadafel – a late flowerer, similar looking to gentle Hermione – but the leaves get very badly affected, despite being right next to Gentle Hermione.

Harlow Carr – we’ve planted this as a hedge type plant and to be honest its position is probably challenging for a rose, so it’s probably unfair to put it in this category. The flower heads are mid pink, med/small size, open shape, and average repeaters and little scent. It is a bit scrawny in shape and the leaves do not look great – probably to do with its position. I think I need to feed it more or plant something that’s not a rose here.


So for all you wet-weather rose lovers I hope this has been of help - that is 21 of my roses – the other ones are Rugosas – which always have great looking leaves, and their large hips make up for the flower heads which I find rather under-whelming.

And I have a few I don’t know the name of – one incredible red rose which was there when we moved in, and looks ancient yet each year it has flowers from June to November, despite it’s leaves looking bad and even having mildew on some flowers! Luckily it has grown up through a hebe and that disguises most of the leaf issues, though it may be why its not looking great too? See picture.


Please do let me have any feedback on roses you love and ones that work where you are.