Lynnette Payne, The Old Rosarian, studied under a British rosarian and has been growing roses for many years. Recently retired, she now has her largest rose garden ever -- 750 roses and counting on an acre of land! Lynnette specializes in old garden roses plus modern shrubs. In addition to caring for her roses, she also helps the webmaster on the biggest rose forum on the Garden Web, by putting up the FAQs. You can also find her busy on the AllExpert site under Roses answering questions.
I asked Lynnette to try to describe her garden and here's what she had to say: the climbers and ramblers are planted every ten feet on a wooden fence post, all around the edge of the property. Then in front of these are planted two of the old roses and finally in the front of them, a low modern shrub. The property is divided into "rooms" by wire fencing and on this the ramblers are woven through the wire to make a living fence. Again there are roses planted all along the fence in front of the ramblers.
Lastly there are two very large circle beds which contain the modern colours as most of the older roses have a mauve tinge to them and some modern shades don't blend well.
Garden paths wander everywhere and lead you around many blind areas so you don't know what you will find when you turn the corners. Climbers tend to hang over the paths and old roses will often (as Peter Beales describes it) clasp you in a thorny embrace.
Different kinds of crabapples and Japanese cherries are planted all over the garden and the bloom in spring is very impressive. The trees are small enough so they don't interfere with the sun on the roses.
Because I don't spray I have a system for keeping any rose. It gets a three-year trial and if it isn't happy and gets blackspot badly then it is given away. I don't spray and blackspot is bad in the PNW however I am a block from the sea and there are always sea winds and so far it has kept the blackspot down and I have never had mildew on the ramblers. No I lie. 'Dorothy Perkins' will get it towards the fall!
I prune all the hybrid teas, floribundas, modern shrubs and climbers back hard in the fall as this stops the canes from breaking in the gale force winter storms. I don't prune ramblers and the old roses yearly, I just remove some old canes to the base every five years. I do dead head as it is a simple matter of snapping off the flowers as you walk by. Because of the strong winds, my climbers are grown as large eight foot shrubs so needless to say the top flowers are not dead headed.
Many gardeners think that the old roses only bloom for a couple of weeks but those are the ones that are closest to a species rose but most of the old ones can bloom for nearly two months if the weather is cool. The old roses like a cool climate as high heat tends to make the flowers wilt and die quickly. Most years the garden is at it's best from the first week of May, when the species flower, to the end of July when the modern ones are resting up for their second flush.