The vigorous sprawling growth of rambling roses have made them popular choices for inclusion in cottage gardens in the past as well as in the present. They only bloom once but their floral display is so outstanding they more than earn their keep. Covered with an abundance of flowers for 3-4 weeks, ramblers will take your breath away. Of course, all this vigor and abundance needs space and a strong structure to grow on so this is not a rose for the small garden. Grow it in trees, on the side of a house, on a white picket fence, or as a ground cover and enjoy the exuberance and romantic ambience they bring to the garden. 

Here are six heirloom rambling roses that would enhance a cottage garden.

The glossy foliage of ‘Albertine’ is a perfect background for the fragrant salmon-pink flowers. The large flowers are about 3.5” across, full (26-40 petals) and cup-shaped.

    Group:Rambling; hybrid Wichurana
    Flower Color:Salmon pink
    Bush Size:25’ H x 15” W
    Hardiness: Zones 5-9

‘American Pillar’
Introduced in 1908, ‘American Pillar’ is a cross between Rosa wichuraiana and the native American prairie rose. The single rose colored flowers are 2” across and, have a white center and are produced in large clusters. It’s foliage is glossy green and its stems are very thorny. Long popular in France, it is experiencing a come-back in the US.

    Group: Rambling; hybrid Wichurana
    Flower Color: Pink with white eye
    Bush Size: 11-23’ H x 10’ wide
    Hardiness: 4b-9b

‘Alberic Barbier’
The semi-double flowers have cream colored petals with light yellow centers that age to white. The flowers are 2.75” across and have a green tea fragrance. They are produced solitary or in small clusters and are quartered giving them an old-fashioned look. The bush has glossy foliage, almost thornless stems, and a cascading habit that makes it especially good as a climber, rambler, or groundcover.

    Group: Rambler; hybrid Wichurana
    Flower Color: Light yellow fading to white
    Bush Size: 15-25; H x 10-12’ W
    Hardiness: Zones 5- 9b

Small egg-yolk colored flowers that fade to cream are semi-double and borne in large clusters. The leaves are small, light green, glossy, and wrinkled and the stems are almost thornless. Smaller than other ramblers, ‘Goldfinch’ is also less aggressive and can be used in smaller areas and to hide the bare stems of taller roses.

    Group: Rambling; hybrid multiflora
    Flower Color: Egg-yolk yellow fading to cream
    Bush Size: 10’ H x 4’ W
    Hardiness: Zones 5-9

‘Sea Gull’
Large clusters of single to semi-double white fragrant flowers punctuated by bright golden stamens and are followed by small red hips. The small glossy leaves are grayish-green and slender. A very vigorous rambler, it is especially popular for growing in trees

    Type: Rambling; hybrid multiflora
    Flower Color: White
    Bush Size: 20’ H x 12’ W
    Hardiness: Zones 4-9

The name refers to the blue color of the flowers but don’t get your hopes up, this is not a blue rose. The small semi-double cupped flowers are magenta colored and take on a bluish/lilac tone as they age. Streaks of white in the petals and gold stamens combined with an orange fragrance make the flowers very appealing. Leaves are glossy light to medium green and stems are virtually thornless.

    Type: Rambling; hybrid multiflora
    Flower Color: magenta fading to purplish blue
    Bush Size: 15’ H x 11.5’ W
    Hardiness: Zones 4-9

Cottage gardens pointerThe ramblers are excellent roses for a cottage garden and can add a rustic charm to many areas. They are generally fast growing and vigorous and require less care than their pampered cousins, the hybrid teas. They are flower-machines when they bloom and create a feeling of luxurious abundance.

By Karen