White roses

January columns are always the hardest to write with the spring flush of bloom and the associated events over with for another year and roses taking a back seat over the festive season. Certainly we can’t complain about the summer we are having although some moisture would be very welcome for our gardens.

St Albans

Trying to come up with something topical is always hard for this time of the year so after wracking my brain and looking back through past columns, I’ve gone for a colour theme to kick the year off with a column about white roses. You probably already know about ‘Iceberg’ and that it seems to be the only rose grown across some suburbs but let me introduce you to some of the not so well known white roses that you can grow in your garden.

In the Hybrid Teas, look out for ‘Memoire’ or sometimes it is sold as ‘Ice Cream’. This one is good for picking with large well-formed blooms of creamy white. ‘St Pauls Cathedral’ is another good white with plenty of blooms and also has a good scent.  Newly released is ‘Margaret Sherwood’ with large white blooms on long stems, another good picking rose too.

The Wedding Rose

There are plenty of white floribundas besides ‘Iceberg’ and Margaret Merril’. One of my favourites is ‘The Wedding Rose’ which is a low growing variety with masses of old fashioned style white blooms. ‘Scott Base’ is a new variety with fragrant white blooms and ‘Jack Frost’, also new, is exceptionally healthy.

In the climbers, ‘Sir Edmund Hillary’ is a strong growing variety with fragrant blooms while ‘White Knight’ is another variety that deserves to more widely grown. Another favourite is the patio climber ‘Taffeta’ which has creamy white old fashioned blooms with a good scent.

Little White Pet

For old fashioned varieties, ‘Little White Pet’ is a good rose for smaller gardens while ‘Banksia Alba’ is the white form of the well known pale yellow Banksia rose which is one of the first to flower each spring. The rugosa roses ‘Alba’ and Blanc Double de Coubert’ are also two great hardy varieties that will grow anywhere.

There are lots of choices in the groundcover/shrub category apart from White Flower Carpet. ‘Sparkler’ is a great alternative and while not fragrant, it does make a great show. Also look out for ‘Escimo’ a single white and ‘White Meidiland’ which is pure white and has an old-fashioned look to it.

Lyon Day

In the miniature/patio roses, ‘Ice Angel’ is another favourite and is described as a miniature ‘Iceberg’ while ‘Whiteout’ has masses of blooms. A new variety that looks promising is ‘White Patio Wonder’which would look great on a short standard.

There is just a selection of some of the white roses around so next time you are looking for something in the white tones to add to your garden, have a look out for one of these varieties in a garden centre or specialist rose nursery near you.


In the Rose Garden for January:

  • Water, water, water if the weather is hot and dry. One good application a week is better than a flick with the hose every second day. Keep the foliage dry if you can as this helps reduce disease.
  • Keep weeds under control as they can soon get away with a bit of warmth and moisture.
  • Continue to de-head your roses. Not only does it make the garden look tidier, it promotes the production of new flowers.
  • If you have been away and come home to your roses looking less than desirable, don’t despair. You can do a summer trim where all growth is cut back to a good strong bud, fertilise them and keep them well watered so you get good strong growth coming away and a good display of blooms in March.

By Hayden Foulds

Hayden also serves as Deputy Chairman of the World Federation of Rose Societies Rose Trials Committee amongst other rose endeavours. 

Read more from Hayden here.