Roses particularly attractive for Bees
– Die deutsche Version lesen – Last week I promised you more about roses. There are over 150 different species roses occurring in the wild, and over the past 400 years or more, more than 30.000 hybrids have been raised. They range from compact groundcovering roses to gigantic rambling beasts that will grow high up into trees. This time I want to concentrate on those that are of particular interest to insects: the single or semi-double ones.
Wild roses like our native pale pink dogrose (Rosa canina), the early yellow Rosa hugonis, the decorative glaucous-leaved Rosa glauca or the tall, handsome Rosa moyesii with its dark red flowers have mostly just five petals. They open wide, to display a boss of golden stamens in the center. Bees will easily identify them, and will visit them frequently. In doing so, they will pollinate the flowers, and as a result, we are rewarded with mostly very decorative rosehips, ranging from orange to red, occasionally black. These are a great added bonus as decorative element for the autumn and winter garden.
Rosa rubiginosa ‘Apple Jack’ is also known as Appel rose, as her foliage exudes an unusual apple scent.
Unlike the wild species roses, some of the single-flowered hybrids will not develop fruits as they are sterile, but quite a few are repeat-flowering. David Austin managed to breed a truly, completely thornless-rose ‘Kew Gardens’ with numerous single flowers, creamy-yellow fading to white. Its rather stiff upright habit, makes it a perfect hedge.
‘Tottering By Gently’ forms a large shrub which also produces large quantities of single pale yellow flowers, followed by rosehips in autumn. Another English one producing a good crop of large rosehips is the unusual coppery red coloured ‘Morning Mist’. It grows into a large shrub.
Planted in larger masses the appropriately named ‘Bienenweide Rot’ is a great grasing-ground and extremely long flowering ‘Fortuna’ will provide a long-lasting display.
If you are looking for something robust, try the Rugosa roses. ‘Fru Dagmar Hastrup’ is charming with her large, single, clear pink flowers and fresh green foliage.
A deep-rooted suckering shrub growing in Persia and Afghanistan is Rosa persica with bright yellow flowers and a dramatic dark red eye. After many years of trying, rose growers have finally managed to develop some new plants that will cope with the cooler, moister climatic conditions of northern Europe. Kordes has bred a series of compact roses with unusual colouring that are strong and healthy and have a good flowering season, though they do not have a strong scent. SEE YOU in Pink is a rich pink colour, whereas SEE YOU in Red is a soft pink with a large reddish eye and SEE YOU in Purple change from creamy yellow to almost white with a large purplish eye.
Semi-double shrub roses
Certain roses have evolved to semi-double flowers: they have at least a double set of petals, giving a fuller appearance, but still show off their attractive golden stamens so that bees can find them easily. A close white-flowering relative of ‘Fru Dagmar Hastrup’ above, is ‘Blanc Double de Coubert’. This too is a good repeat-flowering rose, and can also be grown in slightly shadier conditions. Two large classic shrub roses whose petals open wide are ‘Margaret Hilling’ (pink) and ‘Nevada’ (cream). ‘Maigold’ can develop into a comparable (once-only, early flowering) shrub with a more coppery yellow than ‘Frühlingsgold’. They have great charm with their loosely arranged petals. If you have the space to let these shrubs grow without pruning, you will be rewarded with a billowing mass of strongly scented flowers.
In recent years, David Austin has bred a number of cup-shaped roses. ‘Buttercup’ has a rich golden colour and is very free flowering. Soft apricot is ‘The Lark Ascending’, producing numerous flowers and enjoys great health. This is not to be confused with ‘Skylark’, a soft pink hybrid. Even paler pink is the vigourous and healthy ‘Scarborough Fair’, and have similar flower character.
Climbers and ramblers
Almost all of the big ramblers are suitable as bee-plants. ‘Lykkefund’ has creamy-yellow little buds, opening into white single flowers. My favourite is ‘Kew Rambler’ with soft pink flowers with a white eye, that surround glorious golden stamens, one of the classic ramblers with excellent small rosehips. Similar in character with strong red petals and a distinctive white eye is ‘Libertas’ which flowers throughout summer.
‘Raubritter’ is another old favourite of mine, with pink cup-shaped flowers. It has a lax habit, making it ideal to plant on top of a low retaining wall and let it tumble over the edge, or grow as a small climber. It flowers only once, but does so for many weeks. ‘Uetersener Klosterrose’ has a similar flowershape but is charming white, repeat flowering climber.
Once-flowering, but followed by rosehips is ‘Shropshire Lass’ with white flushed pink flowers. Soft pink can be seen on the compact rambler ‘Open Arms’ which flowers all summer long.
Tightly filled roses can also attract bees. The best proof is the rich display of rosehips we have each autumn on two of our climbers in the herbaceous borders: ‘Strawberry Hill’ and ‘The Generous Gardener’ are always full of big fat fruits. They would not be there if bees had not been able to gain access to pollinate them. I watched one dive in amongst the folds of ‘Winchester Cathedral’ earlier this week. It seemed like a bit of a struggle, but it did not stop her. It just goes to show the more open flower shapes make it easier and quicker for them to get to their meal.