AIH Walk & Talk: Taking a Closer Look at Roses In Modern Landscapes

In our February Walk & Talk, the Institute took a group of rose enthusiasts to Green E Roses in Galston NSW. For professional horticulturists and landscape experts, there is still plenty to recommend about roses in Australian gardens and landscapes.

AIH designed the tour to showcase the diversity of modern roses and seek expert guidance from fourth-generation rose growers, Klaus, Brigitte and Stephen Eckhardt.

Modern Applications of Design Using Roses

The Walk & Talk centered on continuing to use roses in rapidly-changing landscape designs with space limitations and changing consumer preferences. It is, however, the diversity of modern and species roses that gives them such incredible versatility in landscapes, enabling huge rambling climbers through to compact, almost bedding specimens to suit the landscape and preference.

Some varieties grow to become very large and are best left largely to their own devices – like the huge Marie Van Houtte that occupies the morning-sunny corner as you enter the nursery. One plant covers around six square metres and looks largely after itself.

Others such as weeping standards can create flowers at height, enabling the designer to plant beneath them. Brigitte pointed out that standards grow from the ‘top part’ – an important consideration since the plant will put on upward growth once planted.

Take-Home Messages

  • Designers should absolutely consider roses in modern landscapes because the varieties on offer can deliver a result for every customer in the form of shape, colour, scent and habit.
  • Focus on soil health and judicious pruning. Feeding the plant will ensure that the leaves feed the flowers. As Klaus says “roses get big before they get beautiful” – those big blousy blooms need a lot of energy and food to get going, so creating good soils will deliver results without too much foliage growth.
  • Prune according to the type: the harder you prune, the more the plant has to create new shoots to support flowers, so you can moderate the growth of flowers by pruning harder or more moderately. For climbing roses, just trim them back gently, since hard pruning will create long sucker shoots that take longer to bloom. You can also train roses along wires or espaliers, and they can tend to flower more evenly along a horizontally-trained branch.
  • Black Spot fungus (Diplocarpon rosae) is a problematic fungal organism that infects older leaves during conditions of high humidity. Stephen advised that watering in the morning is better than at the end of the day to avoid the longer exposure to water that encourages fungal spore germination (the spores need around seven hours of water to infect a leaf). Black Spot is unavoidable but can be minimized with good hygiene and plant health.

The rather enormous ‘Marie Van Houtte’ occupies pride of place in morning sun.

‘Marie Van Houtte’ herself.

Brigitte tours the group through the extensive nursery.

An unusual single rose variety.

Stunning colour and pattern features make roses ideal cut flower specimens.

Gorgeous varieties in all shapes, forms and sizes.

Stephen demonstrates T-grafting and chip-budding.

“A rose will often push out shoots from the food stored in the internodes before it develops roots. So what we do as rose growers is graft onto good, established rootstock using chip-budding mostly. It ensures the graft is placed onto strong roots and the long-term benefit over the lie of that plant is definite, compared to just growing on its own roots. The flowers are larger and the plant stronger”, Stephen said.

Klaus demonstrates pruning principles.

“Pruning a rose offers the greatest benefit to its vigour and productivity”, Klaus explains.

“You can prune as hard as you like as long as it’s above the graft union. Pruning just above an outward-facing eye will push the following growth outwards and keep the centre clean. However you can also prune inwards if you wish for a more compact upright rose in an enclosed space. But, overall, pruning will give you better results than fertilizer in healthy plants.”


With thanks to Klaus, Brigitte and Stephen Eckhardt for their wonderful hospitality and generously sharing their knowledge. Visit or find them on Instagram and Facebook.

Thanks also to Chris Poulton FAIH RH for convening the event with David Ting MAIH RH and Wayne Van Balen MAIH RH.

We appreciate the support and attendance from members of the Rose Society of NSW.


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