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How to Design a Rose Bed

Roses are the darling of the garden, and they really aren't high-maintenance. Meet their basic needs, give them adequate space, and you'll be able to play with color, height, and variety to create a rose bed that is interesting, fragrant, and beautiful.

Consider the growing needs of roses. Though they can adapt to many different growing conditions, they need good drainage, so choose a location that has a natural slope or create one so that the roses won't be waterlogged. Sunshine and a rich soil will make your roses prosper in their home.

Develop a color scheme. Because there are so many varieties, you can match almost any palette. You can choose classic red accented by white for a simple but striking rose bed. Or go with a wild mix of colors: pinks, peaches, oranges, and yellows. Or you can lay out a visual color pattern, with white in one section, pink in another, orange at the back, red at the front. The plan is entirely personal and should please your taste.

Plan from the back to the front of the rose bed. If the back of your space has support, like a fence or a wall, then plan on putting in some climbing roses for maximum height. If you have no built-in support, you can always install a trellis. From climbing roses, you'll want to step down in height so the tallest growers are at the back and the smallest at the front. Shrub roses grow up to 5 feet; tree or standard roses grow up to 3 1/2 feet; miniature roses can grow up to 15 inches.

Space the plants out. At least 2 feet between each plant is recommended by the "Reader's Digest All-New Illustrated Guide to Gardening."

Use a variety of roses for interest. Hybrid tea roses offer a very wide range of colors, double flowers, and intermittent flowering. Floribundas produce clusters of flowers with continuous blooming. Grandifloras can grow very tall, with flowers similar to hybrid tea roses but with several flowers per stem, like a floribunda. A tree rose is usually a hybrid tea or floribunda that has been shaped to have a single, tree-like stem; they are dramatic, formal, and add structure to a rose garden.

Edge with miniature roses. Of course, you can edge with any plant, annual or perennial, but why not stick to the theme? Miniature roses, according to the "Reader's Digest All-New Illustrated Guide to Gardening," make great edging plants.

Fill in with a ground cover. The afore-mentioned gardening guide recommends a rugosa hybrid rose, "Max Graf," or R. wichuraiana, or the memorial rose, as ground covers. They both have low-growing habits (1 to 1 1/2 feet tall). The 'Max Graf' produces pink flowers; the memorial rose, white.

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