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Create a Beautiful Rose Garden

By: Sherri Ribbey
Bursting with blooms and a sophisticated French-inspired style, this rose garden is made for getting away without leaving the comfort of home.

Peek at a Rose Garden through a garden gate: A custom gate welcomes visitors to the backyard, offering a hint of the vibrant colors and beauty to be found beyond.

Rose garden beginnings

A passion for roses and travel, especially to France, inspired Linda Knowles to turn her dull Sacramento, California, backyard into a beautiful oasis where she can relax and entertain friends and family — she loves having a reminder of those trips right outside her back door and it's a beautiful and relaxing place to make even more memories. Linda and her best friend, Charlotte Owendyk, share some of those memories and some great rose gardening tips in the video below.

Falling in love with roses

Creating a rose-filled garden was a natural choice for Linda — her maternal grandparents were both gardeners and when she was a child they’d take her to Exposition Park in Los Angeles to wander the paths of the rose garden. Linda started her first garden when she was 19 by planting 20 roses. Today she tries to keep her collection to around 300! Linda is a dedicated member of the American Rose Society, has her Master Rosarian certification and teaches classes on rose care and maintenance.

Her beautiful rose garden is divided into four sections:a rose allée, a parterre, the pergola and a seating area called the “olive lounge”. The garden developed in stages as time and budget allowed. Each area recalls places she’s visited that really struck a chord and provide space for entertaining, as well as for growing the roses, many of them fragrant, to enjoy in spring, summer and fall.

Rose Garden Archway: As climber ‘Eden Rose’ grows up and over the arbor, lateral stems (or side stems) get more sun than the ones closer to the ground so they produce more blooms.

The rose garden allée

This path lined with arbors above provides a stunning welcome to Linda’s garden. These simple structures raise a rainbow of climbing rose blooms to eye level so visitors can get up close to their beauty and easily enjoy their fragrance. It was inspired by a garden Linda visited on her first trip to France—the La Roseraie du Val-de-Marne (also known as Roseraie de L’Hay). It took her breath away. One of the main features was a huge rose allée.

Linda started the allée with four arbors on the side of the yard between the garage and the privacy fence but over the years she's added to it so there are now eight. The original four were all Linda had at the time, so she spaced them 6½ ft. apart in order to fill the space. That turned out to be a good thing because it allowed as much sunlight into this part-shade area as possible. Linda has had success growing David Austin roses, old garden roses, ‘Eden Rose’ and 'Mutabilis' in this area that gets a bit less sun.

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Parterre with roses: The simple design of this parterre is also very practical. With path access on all sides it’s easy to get from one side of the yard to the other for maintenance.

A rose garden parterre

If you visit gardens in France, you’ll most likely come across parterres like the one above. It’s a design with a long history that grew out of Medieval knot gardens. Originally the beds were separated by low hedges that, as time went on, were replaced by edging. In a parterre the pattern created by the division of the beds becomes the highlight — even more so than the plants growing within the beds. For years Linda collected different photos and ideas and finally settled on this classic pattern to replace the last section of lawn in her backyard.

So now instead of turf you’ll find lavender cotton (Santolina chamaecyparissus), tree roses (Rosa hybrids), Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas) and other herbs, with a lime tree (Citrus spp.) as a focal point in the center. These plants that take summer heat and still look good. Lean over and enjoy the fragrant roses or brush your hands over the lavender or lavender cotton foliage to release their aromas.

Outdoor dining area and water fountain: The long dining table has plenty of seating for family gatherings and the vines above provide the shade that keeps this space cool and comfortable on hot summer afternoons.

Dining outdoors

After Linda added sliding glass doors off the kitchen to provide easy access to the garden, she decided she wanted a pergola that would provide some shade in her sunny yard. Her sister Gloria designed it incorporating features from structures seen in their travels and ideas from family discussions. Another sister, CJ, and brother-in-law, Greg, built it. The pergola is 18 ft. long by 12 ft wide and lines up with the sliding doors so from the inside it looks like an extension of the house. The long, narrow space framed by the brick and wood pillars and topped by lush greenery draws your eye through to the focal point at the back: A rustic fountain. It's a recirculating type to save water in this dry climate and adds a soothing sound to meals al fresco.

The pergola supports a grape vine (Vitis hybrid), a wisteria (Wisteria spp. and hybrids) and a lady banks rose (Rosa banksiae) that provide plenty of shade. But these enthusiastic growers need to be pruned every other year. Linda cuts all the growth back to where the metal frame meets the posts in late winter.

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Olive lounge in the rose garden:Adding container groupings near the outdoor furniture helps connect the planting and seating areas.

Special seating

This seating area in the photo above, which Linda dubbed “the olive lounge,” provides a place to unwind or chat with friends against the backdrop of Grand Prize™ rose’s graceful white blooms and soft, spicy scent. Inspired by an outdoor café in Provence, Linda decided to create a similar feature in her backyard. So she enlisted the help of her youngest son, David, to help figure out the layout and do some of the work. A dozen Grand Prize roses (Rosa hybrid) form an arching hedge behind the benches, and two olive trees (Olea spp.) create the entrance. At 3 to 4 ft. tall, the roses give this spot a sense of enclosure, and the trees form a graceful arch that frames the view.

Rose garden care tips

Now you have some inspirational ideas for how to create a beautiful rose garden. Make sure the plants look great with these organic rose growing tips from Linda:

  • Water regularly for good looking foliage and plenty of blooms.
  • Use an organic plant food, such as seaweed and fish fertilizer, every 2 weeks if you're showing roses or monthly otherwise.
  • Apply composted horse manure twice a year — once in early spring before blooming and again in August.

Grow your own rose garden

Here are just a few of the roses that Linda has had success with over the years.

Easy Does It rose (Rosa hybrid)

Type Shrub Blooms Lightly fragrant 3½-in. apricot-orange blooms with scalloped petals Light Full sun Size 3 to 4 ft. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9

Rock & Roll rose (Rosa hybrid)

Type Shrub Blooms Cream buds open with red and white stripes and splashes on fragrant blooms from spring to fall Light Full sun Size 4 to 5 ft. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 6 to 9

Rainbow Sorbet rose (Rosa hybrid)

Type Shrub Blooms Pink, yellow, orange and red 3 to 3½-in. flowers Light Full sun Size 4 to 5 ft. tall, 3 to 4 ft. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 6 to 9

Evelyn rose (Rosa hybrid)

Type Shrub Blooms Fragrant apricot blooms, flowers best in mild winter areas Light Full sun Size 4 to 5 ft. tall, 3 to 4 ft. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9

Disneyland® rose (Rosa hybrid)

Type Shrub Blooms Lightly scented 3½-in. apricot, orange and pink blooms Light Full sun Size 3 ft. tall and 2 ft. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA ones 5 to 9

About Face rose (Rosa hybrid)

Type Shrub Blooms Golden-orange and bronze flowers Light Full sun Size 4 to 6 ft. tall, 3 to 4 ft. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 6 to 9

Easy Does It rose (Rosa hybrid)

Type Shrub Blooms Lightly fragrant 3½-in. apricot-orange blooms with scalloped petals Light Full sun Size 3 to 4 ft. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9

Evelyn rose (Rosa hybrid)

Type Shrub Blooms Fragrant apricot blooms, flowers best in mild winter areas Light Full sun Size 4 to 5 ft. tall, 3 to 4 ft. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9

Rock & Roll rose (Rosa hybrid)

Type Shrub Blooms Cream buds open with red and white stripes and splashes on fragrant blooms from spring to fall Light Full sun Size 4 to 5 ft. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 6 to 9

Disneyland® rose (Rosa hybrid)

Type Shrub Blooms Lightly scented 3½-in. apricot, orange and pink blooms Light Full sun Size 3 ft. tall and 2 ft. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA ones 5 to 9

Rainbow Sorbet rose (Rosa hybrid)

Type Shrub Blooms Pink, yellow, orange and red 3 to 3½-in. flowers Light Full sun Size 4 to 5 ft. tall, 3 to 4 ft. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 6 to 9

About Face rose (Rosa hybrid)

Type Shrub Blooms Golden-orange and bronze flowers Light Full sun Size 4 to 6 ft. tall, 3 to 4 ft. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 6 to 9

Published: Feb. 11, 2021
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