Designing a Rose Garden with the help of David Austin

Did you know that David Austin offers free design services for planning a rose garden?!

I discovered this in their catalogue recently and the timing couldn't have been better. With a bunch of new roses about to arrive and the desire to move some old ones, I needed help. 

Here's what I submitted to David Austin:


Here is the list of roses I'll be working with (total 17):

  • Evelyn Climber x 2
  • Evelyn Shrub x 5
  • Crown Princess Margherita x 3
  • Leander x 2
  • Wildeve x 2
  • Abraham Darby x 3

About the space:

  • It’s a border alongside a 7’ high fence, the bed is 6’6” wide x 56’ long.
  • The bed curves, facing east and south in roughly equal proportions (the eastern section gets late day shade). 
  • The other plants I’d like to incorporate include: a few flowering shrubs (1 of each lilac, mock orange, nine bark, hydrangea) as well as lots of ornamental alliums (drumstick + bulgaricum), and a few perennials (approx 10 each of heuchera, columbine, astrantia). 
  • I have some clematis that I’d like to incorporate with the climbers including Duchess of Edinburgh x 3, Ville de Lyon x 1 + Alpina x 3 + Tangutica x 1. 
  • I like an informal style. The garden is a cutting garden so I’d like to be able to access the plants at the back of the border without too much trouble (I’ve been wondering if it would be best to not put thorny roses at the front of the border for example). 
  • The image below shows you most of the bed (there’s a bit more on the left of the image). 

I hope that helps! 

Below is what I received from the wonderful Michael Marriott of David Austin Roses: 

Hello Clare,

Thank you very much for your email asking for help in designing your rose border. Please find below a planting scheme which I hope you like. I started off by trying to include all the plants you listed but soon realized that there wasn’t enough space and so have left out all of the flowering shrubs as they all potentially grow big and take up a lot of space. 

As you say it is for cutting, the roses are spaced fairly well apart although having said that with the exception of Evelyn which is reasonably upright all will become quite large spreading bushes. You will see that I have suggested using both Leander and one of the Crown Princess Margareta as climbers as they are both vigorous and will be better for being trained. The spaces in between the roses are for you to fill with the perennials – all the ones you listed will look very lovely with the roses. as a general guide line it is important not to plant perennials right at the base of roses as they will take the lion’s share of water and nutrients leaving little for the roses. Some though could be planted right at the front of the border in front of the roses. You will though have to take into consideration accessing the roses and clematis at the back. 

You will see I have put three of the clematis in between the roses quite close to the roses so that they can have the chance of growing through them without overwhelming them. C. tangutica I have left out as it is very vigorous best grown into a tree. 

I was interested to look at your website – it is very lovely. Do let me know if you need any more help with the roses,

Best Wishes Michael

How fabulous. Thank you so much Michael and the folks at David Austin for offering such an invaluable resource. 

To learn more about David Austin roses, click here