To say that I like roses would be a bit of an understatement. There are over 30 different varieties of roses currently growing in our garden, and we are always on the lookout for more. I see nothing wrong with this.
A handy growing summary chart is at the end of the article.
Part of my love affair with these plants, aside from the obvious beauty they bestow, is the fact that they are tough. Most varieties can tolerate a wide degree of growing conditions, including extremes of temperatures, poor soil, and reduced water. And despite all that, they continue to reward the gardener with colorful and beautiful flowers.
‘Lady of Shalott’ is one of the many English roses bred by David Austin, and one of my favorites in our garden. Their specialty is producing roses that have the “Old World” cabbage-head petal formation, but with repeat blooming and frequently with delightful, classic rose scent. This particular flower can come either as a shrub rose or as a climber. It is the climbing form that we have.
The flower buds start off as a fat, teardrop shape. As they open, the buds become rounder and the outer petals will gracefully curve outward. The remaining petals will curve inward forming the “cabbage head” shape. The petals are loose as the flower head matures and may droop downward as the flower grows. The flower color is a stunning mix of peach, pink, orange, yellow, and red during different stages of its growth. Ultimately, the flowers fade to a light peach color before petal drop occurs. The fragrance is not strong, but it is still present with a light spice aroma.
The blooms are abundant, especially in the spring. During our intense heat of summer (upwards of 110 F), the amount of blooms will decrease and the red pigment will be reduced giving a more yellow appearance than in the spring. Eventually as the temperatures cool, we’ll get another good show of color in the fall, but not at the same degree as the first bloom in spring. Our winters are mild, so we do see some flowers here and there, but in colder climates you can likely expect the plant to go dormant.
The blooms are a bright contrast against the medium-tone green leaves. The leaves themselves are smaller compared to those of hybrid tea roses, and are not as shiny. The leaves are produced on narrow stems that have many branchings. Though Lady of Shalott seems to be resistant to mildew and black spot, we also have it in a location that is not conducive to those diseases. Be mindful that even resistant plants can still become diseased if the conditions are right.
Our climber has been trained to fan out along a fence, but does require regular pruning to keep it in that form. New branches will form from the base and grow wherever they feel like, but it is not difficult to keep this vigorous grower tamed. My recommendations based on our experience would be to trim stems to the length you want, as well as to thin them occassionally from the base or other large stems. Pruning all the way back like what is typical of hybrid tea roses may cost you too much in growth each year.
The branches of our Lady of Shalott have been spread out over a distance of 4 to 5 feet in both directions away from the base. However, if supported on an upright trellis, you could expect the branches to reach 6 to 8 feet or more. Be prepared for stems to grow outward from the trellis that may need cutting back in order to prevent the rose from toppling over.
This rose is growing in some of the worst soil we have on our property, and doesn’t seem to care one bit. The soil is dense clay that has caused other plants to die completely. On one side, the soil is raked by our neighbor’s gardeners to bare soil that gets baked in the sun. We have put down mulch on our side, but I don’t know that it matters. That dense soil also holds on to a lot of water that would rot the roots of lesser plants, but Lady of Shalott just smirks and continues to look beautiful.
- Perennial: Plants will live for several years, if not decades
- Deciduous: leaves may stay on in mild winter areas, but may drop in colder ones
- Height: 6 to 8 feet
- Width: 6 to 8 feet
- Flower Color: orange overall, along with mixture of red, yellow, pink
- Sun: full sun, can tolerate light shade but this could impact rate of growth and amount of blooms
- Water: somewhat drought tolerant
- Soil pH: neutral to slightly acidic
- Soil type: tolerates nearly all soils, sandy soils should be amended
- Key nutrients: can use fertilizers made for roses or other flowering plants, but likely won’t need it
- Planting time: best to start in spring as bare root plants
- Zones: 4-11