Rocky soil, clay soil and poor drainage are all enemies of beautiful flower beds. You can defeat those enemies with raised beds. Most annuals have root systems that are only 6 to 12 inches deep. A raised bed provides rich soil and drainage. As a bonus, flowers higher than ground level are easier to see.
Outline the bed with bricks, flat garden stones or edging stones to a height of 12 inches. If the bed is against a masonry or stucco wall it won't be necessary to use the stones against the wall. The wall itself will be the back of the planter. If the wall is wood, place the bricks about 4 inches away from the wall so moisture isn't a problem.
Add a 4-inch layer of shredded or torn up newspapers at the bottom of the bed. Brown paper bags can also be used, as can typing or computer paper.
Over the next few weeks add vegetable peelings, coffee grinds, tea bags, grass clippings and leaves to the bed until there is a 4-inch layer. This is not vital, but it will add lots of nutrients as these materials decompose. Don't add meat, poultry or fish, cooked or uncooked, as they attract varmints.
Complete the planter by adding potting soil, compost and fertilizer according to package directions. Water so the mixture settles down. Adjust the level of the soil by adding more if necessary. The newspaper layer will compact due to the weight of the soil, as will the kitchen scraps. Most potting soil is sold by bag. The bag will tell you the square footage it holds. Figure out how much you need by multiplying the width, height and depth of the bed. For example, a planter that's 10 feet long, 3 feet wide and 1 foot deep would require 30 square feet of soil.
Plant the bed from the back forward, with taller plants in back, medium size plants in the middle and shorter plants in front if the raised bed is a border. If the bed is an island, plant the tall plants in the middle, surrounded by the medium size plants, and then ringed by the shorter plants.
You can plant roses in a raised bed even though their roots go down 3 feet into the soil. As the newspapers and kitchen scraps decompose they will enrich the soil beneath them. The moisture from watering will break up the soil as well. Use one- gallon rose plants, not the three-gallon size. Or use bare root roses if it's the right season.
Finish the bed with a layer of mulch to enhance appearance and conserve moisture.