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How to make a rose arch

A rose arch, covered in pink Rosa 'Lauré Davoust' roses in bloom, in the walled rose garden at Mottisfont, Hampshire
Rosa 'Lauré Davoust' climbs over a metal arch in the walled rose garden at Mottisfont, Hampshire | © National Trust Images/Jonathan Buckley

At Mottisfont in Hampshire, the Rose Garden is a summer highlight. Jonny Bass, previous Head Gardener there, explains how to create a beautiful rose arch in your own garden.

Choose an arch and roses

Find an arch that’s right for the space – you can use metal or wood. We use both at Mottisfont.

Choose between ramblers and climbers for your roses. We use ramblers – they flower for only about four weeks but grow quickly and create a mass of flowers. Climbers repeat-flower from early May throughout the summer. They grow more slowly but they’re easier to manage. Once you’ve chosen, buy two of the same rose. The variety Rosa gallica has wonderful blooms with heavenly scents.

A close-up view of Rosa gallica 'Versicolor', a pink and white stripy rose, in full bloom at Mottisfont, Hampshire
Rosa gallica 'Versicolor' in full bloom at Mottisfont, Hampshire | © National Trust Images/Andrea Jones

Prepare the ground

Secure your arch in the ground and dig a planting hole at either side. The holes should be at least twice the size of the pot the roses are in. Scatter some compost in the hole (we also add mycorrhizal fungi) and over the roots, and plant your roses firmly.

Train your roses

You’ll soon get long stems appearing. Spread them out and secure them to the arch using garden twine. It’s important not to remove long shoots, as these will become the flowering wood.

Keep the rose bushes watered

Cut the bottom off a plastic drinking bottle and remove the cap. Insert the bottle into the ground upside-down, near the roots of your rose. Keep it topped up with water to stop the rose drying out.

A gardener pushes a wheelbarrow down a path in the rose garden in June at Mottisfont, Hampshire, with Rosa 'Adélaïde d'Orléans' on the arches, yew topiary pillars and low box hedges
The rose garden in June at Mottisfont, Hampshire, with Rosa 'Adélaïde d'Orléans' on the arches, yew topiary pillars and low box hedges | © National Trust Images/Jonathan Buckley

Pruning and feeding your rose bushes

Once your rose has finished flowering, prune back flowering shoots to just above where they join the main stem. Feed before spring with a layer of mulch around the roots to nourish the plant.

Small-space alternative

If your garden isn’t big enough for a rose arch, train a rose up a single fence post. You’ll end up with around 2m of roses in a small patch.

A gardener tending to the borders at Kingston Lacy, Dorset

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