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Rose Arbors, Arches & Trellis

You don't have to settle for having all of your roses at waist height. Why not get some climbing varieties, and reach for the stars? Vertical gardening will add a new dimension (literally) to your garden.

So what's the difference between an arbor and an arch, or even trellis? Well, they do have one thing in common - their purpose is to support your climbing roses so they can grow vertically. The most basic form is using trellis.

An arch on the other hand will grow the roses up and over the top giving blooms above your head. And an arbor is basically a variation on an arch. In fact an arbor can be a collection of a number of arches. The purpose of an arbor is to give a quiet, shady private spot in your garden. Somewhere to relax, linger, enjoy the shade, soak in the colors and perfume of the roses.

An example of a rose arbor
Example of a Rose Arbor, from

One common issue with an arbor is having roses only on top, but not covering up on the side. A good solution for this is to layer the roses. Put a climber on top, a couple up the sides and another climber or shrub toward the bottom to really fill things out. You can also add clematis in to help accent everything.

Use shade tolerant roses around the base. One issue that plagues those that grow climbers, is how to get flowers around the base. the natural tendency for a climber is... well... to climb. Left unattended, you will end up with blooms on the top only with bare canes lower down.

Proper cane training helps of course, but you can also plant some of the more shade tolerant shrub roses at the base to help fill up that empty space. There is no such thing as a shade loving rose... any variety is going to do better and produce more/better blooms with plenty of sun (perhaps 5-6 hrs a day). However, some varieties are more tolerant of shade than others.

As a generalization, old types such as Gallicas, Albas, Damask etc do well in dappled shade. As do the more modern English roses, and any of the multifloras. Avoid Hybrid Tea roses for these areas, they don't do well in shade.

Royal Gold climber

The Hybrid Tea climber Royal Gold, covering some arches at the Australian Inland Botanic Gardens View directions on Google Maps

There's many different types and materials you can use for the structure itself. Metal is a good choice as long as it's a rust resistant variety. However, a wood design can add a more rustic look and blend well with older houses.

Obviously, climbing roses are the best option to get coverage over the whole structure. Here are some popular breeds: Don Juan, New Dawn and Blush Noisette.

Perhaps the most popular climbing red rose is Dublin Bay. It's vigorous, does well anywhere, and has lovely dark red blooms. If it has one drawback (in my opinion only) it's the lack of fragrance. But no doubt it makes a great climbing rose to cover a trellis or arch. It's probably one of the easiest varieties to grow.

If you prefer a red with more perfume, then consider Don Juan. But be warned, it is prone to disease, and it won't do well in sultry or humid climates. A perfect rose for Arizona or Southern California! Many people say this is the most highly scented red climber, and I'm inclined to agree with them.

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