In The Garden Now … Rambling Rose Kiftsgate

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Kiftsgate Rose

Text and photos by Victoria Gilleland

This has been a spectacular year for Rambling ‘Kiftsgate’ Rose. The clusters of white flowers are the size of beach balls and the honey scent is incredible.

The flower is the size of
a beach ball
Visiting gardeners have had difficulty identifying this flowering behemoth and several thought it might be some sort of Climbing Hydrangea ... on steroids. It’s definitely a rare sighting!

Maybe it was the rainy months we had last fall and winter. Who knows? But we’ve never seen a flower display like this before.

The rose is growing on a 30 foot wide trellis which is 10 feet tall. As you can see from the photo our trellis is engulfed by Kiftsgate and flowers tower another 8-10 feet above and extend another 8 or 10 feet east over the patio.

Canes will easily shoot 15 to 25 feet in a single growing season so pruning is essential to keep it in bounds. Kiftsgate has wicked large thorns that my husband and son have been known to attack with a machete. Unless you have unlimited space, Kiftsgate will need to be pruned very heavily right after bloom.

The trellis is 10 feet tall
Kiftsgate blooms once in early summer for about six weeks. After that summer blooming, clematis climb the rose canes to put on a summer display of color.

In the fall what were once clusters of white flowers become orange red rose hip berries that brighten the fall and winter garden. There is year round garden interest.

If you have a very large space, a sturdy structure, and are not afraid of pruning, this vigorous rambling rose is worth consideration.

But be realistic. When I saw it growing in the UK several years ago at Kiftsgate Gardens it appeared to have covered a group of trees and an area at least half the size of a soccer field. Think about that!

(Botanical Name:  Rosa filipes ‘Kiftsgate’)

Victoria Gilleland is the owner of Cottage Garden Designs, a Garden Design company specializing in Redesign of Residential Gardens, Garden Consultation and Coaching. She has been designing gardens in the northwest for over 20 years.


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