Roses are meant to be the star of the show, but that doesn't mean that a rose garden should be nothing but rose bushes and bare dirt underneath. When designing a rose garden, you may plan either a country cottage design where other plants are grown to complement the main attraction, or keep it minimal with just an underplanting that complements yet hides the bare stems.
Insect Repellent the Natural Way
Roses can be one of the easiest plants to grow, but they also have one of the longest lists of insect pests of any plant. One way to combat the spider mites, aphids and other bugs that consider your roses a tasty snack is through companion planting. By planting flowers and other plants that attract the insects that feast on those bugs, you'll cut down on the damage without using harmful chemicals. Plants that attract hummingbirds, herbs such as garlic and flowers such as the common rue and white perennial geranium all attract beneficial insects. Garlic also releases a chemical into the soil that is then absorbed by your rose roots that makes the scent less attractive to the greenfly, a major pest to roses. Chives are another herb that helps prevent blackrot. Marigolds and perennial geranium create a beautiful underplanting for rose bushes while protecting them from nematodes and Japanese beetles, respectively.
Allowing another plant to climb behind a rose bush or to intertwine with a climbing rose can add depth and beauty to your garden. Chose your climbers carefully--invasive plants such as morning glory may look beautiful when blooming but can have deadly results in the garden. Morning glory is known to choke out other plants with its rapid growth and spreading ability. Plants such as clematis or the annual sweet pea are more suitable choices. Sweet peas are also a fragrant plant that when combined with roses outside a window or kitchen door could send a wonderful aroma indoors.
Color and Texture Schemes
Since roses love rich, well-draining soil in full sun, they are easily paired with just about any sun-loving perennial. Experiment with color and texture to find the combinations that you love the best for your garden design. Look at the ways you can vary bloom sizes and shapes for a more dazzling array like in a country garden. Some choices could include delphinium, hollyhock, gladiola, coreopsis, aster, Shasta daisy and coneflower. Visit your garden center for plant ideas that are native to your particular growing zone and don't be afraid to ask for advice on other good combinations.