There are many flowers that mix with roses. To begin with the dwarfs, for spring we can have Snowdrops, Muscari or Grape Hyacinths, winter Aconite, small Narcissus, and Scilla, or the dainty blue and white Chionodoxa. All these are short enough to do well under the branches of the rose trees.
For planting in the spaces between the trees (and for the first year or two these will be fairly large) such flowers as Forget-me-nots, spring Anemones, young Wallflowers, Aubrietia, and Violets can be used. Both the Violets and the Wallflowers must be taken up as soon as they have finished flowering, or their roots, particularly those of the Violet, will be inextricably entangled with those of the roses. They need not be thrown away, but can be divided or cuttings may be taken, and put out in a shady place until the autumn comes round, when they will return to their beds.
For summer more subdued colors must be employed, such as will not detract from the loveliness of the rose itself. The brown Wood-Sorrel, Oxalis, which is only about two inches high, makes a very pretty carpet. The leaves are shaped like a shamrock, but a rich brown, and it bears tiny yellow flowers which only come out when the sun shines on them. It is easily brought up from seed, and if sown one spring there will be no further trouble, as it comes up every year. It must not be allowed to get too thick, or to approach quite close to the stems of the roses.
There are several lowly Campanulas also suitable for carpets. Pansies and Violas, if the delicate shades are employed, they sometimes look very happy amongst the roses. Both like much the same soil, and both, specially Pansies, do not like a blaze of sun, and therefore will do very well with them. They must not be planted too close and only last year’s cuttings must be set, as old plants are much too large and straggling.
Some of the smaller growing Saxifrages make a nice carpet, and are excellent for edgings. S. Caespitosa, S. Hypnoides, and others of the mossy tribe, are extremely pretty if not allowed to grow too thick. Thrift is another good edging for rose beds. Naturally it is only where the beds or borders abut on a gravel path that any edging is required and turf makes the best frame of all.
Some annuals make very good plants for associating with roses. Shirley and Iceland Poppies, Leptosiphon, Whitlavia, and Godetia, look as well as anything, but care must be taken to see that the color of the annual harmonises with that of the roses. The Poppies, if chiefly shades of yellow and orange, should only be planted amongst cream roses or yellow roses, and the Leptosiphon, being rose pink, only amongst white roses, or those of a similar shade of pink.
Round the standards
For rose standards something taller is needed. Salpiglossis look beautiful grouped around the stem of a rose, and are such graceful quiet annuals that they enhance the beauty of flowers overhead. Coreopsis Tinctoria, which has yellow flowers with brown centers is also excellent for this purpose. The Salpiglossis give blooms of several shades if a mixed packet of seed is sown, purple, tawny, terracotta, and many other common shades. The great thing is to get these annuals up in time. It is a very good plan to buy the seedlings when a few inches high and the result is more certain.
Japanese Pinks are exceedingly pretty, and so easy to grow. Their fringed crimson and white flowers can be cut in quantities without detracting from the appearance of the rose beds, and they continue in bloom right up to the frosts. Statices are much employed instead of grasses, their innumerable tiny flowers are so light and airy, and are produced very freely. They grow from eighteen inches to two feet high, and take away from the bare effect of the rose stems very well indeed. Celosias, too, are feathery annuals to be had in various colors, and not half enough known. The golden colored variety is the most distinct and has a good effect grouped round some cream standard roses.
All these annuals should be treated as half hard, for it is little use sowing the seed in the open ground if an early show is desired. Frames must be brought into use or the young plants can be bought.
When rose trees are rather far apart, plants with a greater amount of foliage and deeper roots can be used. Columbines, for instance, are well adapted for association with roses, especially when these are growing in shady places. They do not flower for so long a period as the annuals, but their leaves are very fresh, and plants which flower later can be mixed with them.