One of the most attractive ways to enhance the privacy offered by a fence is planting roses to climb it.
Gardeners experience some confusion between rambling and climbing roses, and nursery designations are not always completely clear. To find a rose that meets your fence-climbing specifications, look for modern hybrid climbers, old climbers and ramblers, and sports.
Modern Climbing Roses
Hybridizing climbing roses from old varieties occupies numerous breeders, and a modern climbing rose may have as complicated a family history as any old-fashioned aristocrat. It is generally by crossing and grafting old varieties that one meets the requirements for modern climbers: large blooms, frequent or steady blooming, and colors not seen in old-fashioned roses. Some nurseries list petal-count: Red Eden, introduced in 2004, has a petal count in the low 100s. Other desired attributes are illustrated in the Regan Nursery listing for Orange Crush, introduced in 2010. Mature size, vivid color, and heat tolerance are all listed as selling points. In spite of a relatively low petal-count, Orange Crush has much to offer. The Cancan climber, listed as new for 2010, illustrates other criteria set by modern rose-growers: vivid color with variations, cold tolerance, disease resistance, and a more compact size (a range of 10 feet in height rather than the more customary 15).
Older Climbing Roses
Older climbing roses have made several important contributions to the modern landscape. One is durability; another is fragrance. Some breeders of modern climbers cross old and new roses in the hope of combining durability with new colors and larger blooms. Others are drawn to memories of roses in childhood gardens and their pervasive perfume. Older climbers, such as New Dawn, Cecile Bruner, Don Juan and Blaze, contribute hardy root stock for hybridizing and have also generated "sport" climbers, or natural and accidental climbing varieties of their original bush type. Parentage is listed where possible, to guide buyers as to what they may expect from a hybrid or a sport. Breeders sometimes must choose between larger or more frequent blooms and fragrance.
Older Rambler Roses
The earliest generation of climbing roses is referred to as ramblers. Used to produce hybrid climbers, ramblers exhibit to this day the effusive growth habits and intense fragrance one associates with memories of roses. Ramblers are large-Rambling Rector is capable of 20 feet in height, as is Cecile Bruner. They flower in profusion, albeit many blooms are single or simple doubles. Heavy canes support vigorous growth over fences, trees, walls and other surfaces. The Heirloom Roses website points out that the American Rose Society has bundled ramblers with other climbers, but sources for these heavy-blooming giants still exist.