Climbing Roses Put On a Show for Spring

Author: Meera, April 27, 2013
A Shropshire Lad adds color to the back yard

A Shropshire Lad adds its perfect cupped shape and pink color to the farmette’s back fence


I confess I’m a rose lover. This time of year, the climbing roses we’ve planted are clambering up on wooden trellises, chain link fences, and even the wall of the chicken house, putting on a spectacular display. What’s not to love?


Here in Northern California’s inland valleys, these climbers offer their most magnificent displays of color, shape, texture, and scent during spring. Most do well with a season-long balanced fertilizer, water, and pruning to remove dead canes and spent flower heads. Mulch with organic matter to conserve water and keep down the weeds.



Handel climbs along a trellis made special to support its upright growth habit

Climbing Handel scampers along a trellis necessary for itsĀ  support


Climbing Handel features cream-colored blooms, edged in a rose shade of pink. It is hardy, has glossy green foliage, and upright pillar growth.



Climbing Don Juan shoots up and out

Climbing Don Juan shoots up and out


Climbing Don Juan grows upright and has a tendency to spread out. Its canes produce red flowers that are 3 to 6 inches in diameter. The plant blooms from spring until frost.



Lady Banks is an old variety with white or yellow baby roses in the spring

Lady Banks is a species rose named after the wife of Sir Joseph Banks, legendary head of the Royal Horticultural Society of Great Britain



Climbing Lady Banks scampers up our chicken house wall and explodes into a profusion of hundreds of disease-resistant yellow roses on long canesĀ  without thorns. This rose is not a hybrid, but rather comes from China and has been cultivated since 1796. To say it spreads is an understatement–the largest Lady Banks grows in Tombstone, Arizona where it covers 8,000 square feet.



Climbing Sally Holmes has reached 12 feet and vies for space with the bird feeders

Climbing Sally Holmes has reached 12 feet and vies for space with the bird feeders


Climbing Sally Holmes is a showoff in our garden. The pointed-shaped buds start out cream-colored (tinged in pink) and then open into an white bloom with a light, sweet fragrance. The rose can climb 12 feet, the height ours has reached where it grows along the back fence.



The vigor of Sally Holmes means it can easily be grown from cuttings. In fact our massive climber was grown from an arm-length cutting dusted with root hormone that we stuck in the ground three years ago. We’ve taken many cuttings since to start the climber elsewhere on our property.


If you have the space for climbers, consider giving one or more a try. Although they are hardy, often disease-resistant, and reward with spectacular displays of bloom, they need support, so think pillars, arbors, gazebos, porch railings, and fences.




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