Watching The Long Arm recently — the last film from Ealing Studios, a police procedural starring Jack Hawkins — I felt a jolt of recognition as he turned into his front garden and passed standard roses guarding the path. The film was released in 1956 and these roses were a “standard” for front gardens for many years. Indeed, I can just remember them from my childhood.
Why did they fall out of favour? Well, all things do, if only because a new generation of gardeners and designers have to justify their existence by eschewing the established and bringing in the new. And while roses of any sort are poorly suited to the ultra-low maintenance deserts that make up so many front gardens, these also require staking. But I'm not alone in thinking they deserve more attention.
Last year I was enchanted to see a gorgeous collection of standards in the rose tent at Hampton Court Flower Show. And what did Robin Lane Fox write in the FT last week but “I cannot think why this style of rose growing is frowned on by many “modern” designers.”
They wouldn’t be my first choice as I find double-flowered roses fussy, and always worry if the bees have trouble getting into them. However, there are plenty of others, both from David Austin and from Styles Roses, who reckon (with some reason, I think) that they have the largest range of standard roses in Britain.
Standard roses deserve to regain a position of prominence. And perhaps we’re about to come full circle. As Robin Lane Fox said of those roses above: “Either would look wonderful in pairs in a small front garden in sunshine.”
(*These aren't permalinks, so if they don't work, go to the Index at the bottom of the David Austin pages.)
For another post on roses see Robin Hood, Robin Hood, glowing cherry-red