How to Design an English Rose Garden


From opulent estates to humble cottages, English gardeners have long cultivated roses. The blowsy, colorful blooms of roses can be found along walkways and walls and climbing pergolas and trellises throughout the English countryside. A garden filled with roses brings to mind balmy summer days and tea on the lawn. You can mimic the feel of an English rose garden in your own yard by borrowing a few design elements from English rose garden style.

Step 1

Select varieties of roses suitable to your climate. Browse catalogs for options. English gardens are characterized by abundance: large displays of flowers in many varieties in locations throughout the garden. Choose a mix of climbing roses, tea roses, floribundas and even old-fashioned hedge roses. Plantings should vary in height to add interest. For the best show, group multiple plants of the same variety in a single area so that you will have masses of the same colored blooms along a wall or fence. Choose varieties that bloom throughout the summer for constant summer color.

Step 2

Include other plants compatible with your roses. English rose gardens include many other plantings such as annuals, perennials and even fruit trees. Choose border plants such as liriope or English ivy. Add lilies or other bulbs or even herbs that can bloom beneath and between the rose bushes.

Step 3

Use graph paper and colored pencils to draw your garden plan. Opt for curved beds to give the garden a more free-form and casual feeling, another hallmark of English cottage gardens.

Step 4

Incorporate trellises, pergolas, fountains, gazebos and other structures to add interest and provide a backdrop for the roses. English gardens were originally enclosed by the walls or fences around cottages. Structures will help you capture this feeling of enclosure.

Step 5

Plan walkways among the plantings to encourage people to stroll among the blooming flowers. These may be simple mulched paths, arrangements of stepping stones or elaborate stone walkways. Curve the walkways through the plantings.

Step 6

Furnish your garden with benches, tables and chairs. English gardens, especially cottage gardens, are part of the living space of the home. You will want to linger on summer afternoons or mornings, enjoying the beauty and fragrance of the blooming roses.

Things You'll Need

  • Rose catalogs
  • Graph paper
  • Colored pencils


  • Rose Magazine: English Rose Garden Tours
  • Texas A&M University: Designing the Country Cottage Garden
  • University of California: Creating Garden Moods

Who Can Help

  • Rose Gardening Made Easy: Rose Garden Design
Keywords: English rose garden, climbing roses, tea roses

About this Author

Cynthia James is the author of more than 40 novels and her nonfiction work has appeared in publications ranging from Modern Bride to Popular Mechanics. A graduate of Sam Houston State University, she has a degree in economics. Before turning to freelancing full time, James worked as a newspaper reporter, travel agent and medical clinic manager.