Category: Climbers

Altissimo revisited

‘Altissimo’ was flowering early this season – and that’s when I first wrote about this distinctive rose. The trick is that ‘Altissimo’ never stopped blooming. When selecting roses for the local farmer’s market, I had a hard time not bringing this rose every week. The individual flowers don’t last too long, but the rose reblooms so quickly and consistently, I always had one in bloom. Here it is in early September with fresh flowers still coming. This is in a 1 gallon pot – once established in the landscape, it’s even more floriferous. Feed it well, and clip off spent flowers regularly for best performance.

If you’re like me, you probably won’t be completely vigilant about deadheading, and ‘Altissimo’ will reward you with beautiful large orange hips. Altissimo rose hips


The simplicity of this rose makes me think that it’s close to a species rose, but nobody knows for sure. It’s classed as a gallica, maybe for lack of better information. While most near-species roses are nicest grown as a free standing shrub, I think you’ll find it rewarding to give ‘Complicata’ something to climb. You’ll find nicer pictures out there, but here’s one I snapped in the garden (aphids and all!):Rosa 'Complicata'

The blooms are dark pink at the edges, white nearer the center, with prominent yellow stamens. What you can’t see here is how large they are! The only other single I know to compete on bloom size is ‘Altissimo‘. The large size of the flowers, their simple form, wonderful scent, and the fact that it blooms in one main flush of flowers makes this a stunning shrub (or better, a climber) in early Summer.

‘Complicata’ can grow to 10 feet with some support, or to a lax shrub of 6 feet or so. It also sets hips after blooming, for fall/winter interest. We sell ‘Complicata’ for $10 in a 2 gallon pot.

Laura Ford

I was meeting with a bunch of “rose people” (which, by the way, wasn’t nearly as lame as that sounds) and I mentioned my soft spot for yellow roses. One of the guys there practically insisted that I try ‘Laura Ford’. Thanks, Bill. It was well worth tracking this rose down.

Laura FordIt’s not quite a class of its own, but it’s definitely in rare company. ‘Laura Ford’ is a climbing miniature rose. Jumbo shrimp, anyone? Yes, it seems a little contradictory to say a rose that can climb to 12 feet high and dominate a wall is a miniature rose. The answer to the contradiction is in the breeding. Most miniatures were bred, or at least influenced by a small group of hybridizers, who used Chinese roses to make a tough, repeat-repeat blooming rose with small flowers. Any rose that descends from these genes can be called a miniature – and ‘Lara Ford’ does have fairly small individual blooms. However, when this rose blooms, it often covers its canes with clusters of these perfectly-formed yellow flowers, which sometimes show a pink edge as they fade.

In addition, ‘Laura Ford’ has a good scent to its blooms, and it is one of the healthiest roses in my garden.

I sell ‘Laura Ford’ in 1 gallon pots for $10, and 2 gallon for $15.


Do you like your roses subtle and graceful? This isn’t one of those. ‘Altissimo’ pounds out  a big red exclamation point every time it blooms, and that’s often. It’s late October as I write this post, and ‘Altissimo’ is happily blooming away in the greenhouse.

How do I sell you a rose like this one? It’s so different. Have a look:

Rosa 'Altissimo'


Did I say that it’s not graceful? That’s not true. The flowers are huge and loud individually, but they’re in scale with the plant, which is large and fast growing – a climber usually, but can also be left free-standing as an upright shrub. Look how healthy the leaves are in this picture. That’s typical of this rose. ‘Altissimo’ is one of the few roses in my greenhouse that I rarely see troubled by anything but aphids.

It’s distinctive, and totally worth putting into the garden as a trouble-free climber or shrub.