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Plant of the Month – Rosa Souvenir du Docteur Jamain

Posted:2 July 2012

My choice this month is the wonderful rose, Rosa Souvenir du Docteur Jamain’, an old rose variety first introduced in 1865 (image credit and copyright: ©Paul Barden /

This is an absolutely perfect rose and one that Vita Sackville-West loved above all.  The flowers are deep claret and after the first flush in midsummer, they will continue to flower in smaller quantities until the autumn. It is one of the very best climbers for a north-facing wall – in fact it prefers this situation as it tends to fade if it is planted in full sun.

Rosa Souvenir du Docteur Jamain performs well on poor soils and can be grown either as a climber or as a shrub if they are given support – a good way to do this is to insert four hazel poles into the ground and then tie the rose almost horizontally around the posts when the new growth is still soft and pliable.

Garden care:

Plant any time during winter and early spring as long as the ground is not waterlogged or frozen; roses like plenty of water but also need well-drained soil with a pH around 6.5.

Prepare a hole 2½ times the depth of the pot incorporating lots of organic matter into the bottom and sides such as well-rotted stable manure, leaf-mould or garden compost.

If there has been a rose growing in the same spot before then, to avoid replant disease, you could use a bio-degradable cardboard box, no smaller than 1 cubic foot in size.  The box should be sunk into the ground in the position where you wish to plant your new rose and filled with good soil or compost, as well as organic matter.  Plant your rose in the centre of the box at the normal planting depth.  Use bonemeal or another slow-release phosphorous-supplying fertiliser at 85g per sq m in the backfill.

Plant slightly deeper (2.5cm, 1in) than it appears in the pot.

For spring planting prune back to a healthy outward-facing bud 5-8cm (2-3in) above the ground and remove any dead and decaying material.

Water thoroughly and apply a 4-8cm (1½- 3in) layer of mulch using well-rotted manure or similar, making sure it is kept away from the stem of the rose.

Stake and deadhead as necessary and remove any suckers by pulling away from the rootstock.

Prune after flowering, reducing side-shoots to between two and four buds.

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