“Can you name good companion plants for roses?” Someone in the audience invariably asks me that at the end of a rose talk. I always laugh and tell them there’s not enough time. I should tell them that everything from abelia to zauschneria goes well with roses. Or, I could be more specific– from artemisa to aruncula– bamboo to babtisia– catmint to cactus . . .
Pamela Temple has the pale pink rose, ‘Blairii No. 2’, threading through tall yellow cypresses in her garden; a chic San Franciscan, on Geary, has red roses tip-toeing amongst his exotic collection of succulents and cactus; in my garden, a huge brown phormium and melianthus major cuddle with ‘Chevy Chase’ roses.
A few days ago, while watering the garden, this post idea came to me, but when I started planning it I soon realized it should be more than one post, and in color stages. Roses rule the garden here, but color defines the spaces. I’m going to start with the pink bed. It’s 8-feet deep and surrounds the front and one side of our home.
Sedum 'Autumn Joy', near 'Souvenir de la Malmaison', puts on an entertaining show throughout its growth span. It's nothing in the winter, but come spring its the prettiest pale green, it gets taller and taller, and then even paler green flower heads emerge and stay that way quite a while, until color begins to show, as you see here. By fall the color is much darker.
Aquilegia (columbine), in many colors threads it's way through all the roses in my garden. This might look a little messy, but I love it. The columbine fleurs are almost over and will soon be cut back, leaves and all. A pretty mound will regenerate before you know it. The rose is 'Constance Spry'.
Why is everything pink?
Well, it's a color garden and pink plants go with the pink roses here. Funny thing– first-time visitors don’t even notice, because all the colors are visible when you’re in the garden. I’m just going on and on here, but I want to mention a little something about the arty photo up top. You’ll notice just a few perennial companions show in the lower corner. My first choice for rose companions is always another rose, whether it be similar or quite different. Roses come in so many different sizes and shapes—but that’s another companion post.