1. Rosa eglanteria (syn R. rubiginosa) – Cottage garden. Common name sweet briar. Vigorous arching deciduous shrub with prickly stems, bearing apple-scented foliage which distinguishes this from most others. The flowers are small and blush-pink. Vita grew this as a hedge supported on post and wires, which remains the same today. It is native to Europe and has probably been appreciated for its perfumed leaves since civilization began.
2. Rosa rugosa ‘Alba’ – Rose Garden. Large white single flowers and sweetly scented with a blush tinted bud. (Vita said about the hybrid white flowered rugosa ‘Blanc Double de Coubert’ that it was her favourite scented of all the roses). It is a vigorous bushy plant with fine, deeply veined, coarse textured, glossy dark green leaves. Particularly effective in late summer when the crop of large orange/red hips appear contrasting with the later flowers. When fully grown it should reach 6 to 7 feet and make a great rounded bush.
3. Rosa villosa subsp. villosa – Rose Garden. ‘The Apple Rose’ from Europe, West Asia. Single pink flowers slightly fragrant contrasting with the large grey/green leaves. Later the lovely large hips turn orange/red to a rich plum/crimson and are densely set with bristle hairs. A large rose reaching up to 4m.
4. Rosa ‘Wolley-Dodd’ (syn R. ‘Duplex’) – Rose Garden. First discovered in the garden of Rev. Wolley-Dodd in Cheshire c.1900. It is believed to be a hybrid of villosa and a tetraploid but the true parent plant is unknown. Very similar to villosa but shorter growth and the flower is a semi-double pink. It also produces dark red hips after flowering, but in good conditions can repeat flower at the same time. At Sissinghurst we find this rose very useful for growing in shade.
5. Rosa virginiana – Front lawn. North America c.1807. The stems are covered in numerous hooked prickles. The leaves are pinnate, usually with between 7 and 9 glossy leaflets which change colour rapidly in the autumn from yellow, red to brown. The pink flowers are borne singly or in small clusters and appear over a long period in midsummer. The hips are small, round and bright red / orange and remain on the rose well into winter.
6. Unknown Rose – Orchard opposite boat house. This rose is listed in our records as unknown seedlings from Roy Lancaster. Clearly of Chinese origin and similar in growth to R. moysii this rose is used to good effect against the dark inky background of the yew hedge.
By Jon Fenlon