Jo Thompson picks her favourite roses

June is the month of the rose and just now they are blooming in all their glory. Reckless Gardener talks to ‘rose queen’ Jo Thompson who picks her favourites.

I have long admired multi award-winning garden designer Jo Thompson’s flair with roses. She is famed for using Britain’s favourite flower in many of her garden designs and gold medal winning show gardens. Jo has been the recipient of nine medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, four of which were gold, with the most recent being awarded for her delightful Wedgwood Garden this year (2018).

Below Jo (pictured left) shares her nine favourite roses:

Rosa ‘Cardinal de Richelieu’  -Shrub Rose – June & July – Sun or part shade
Although this shrub rose has a relatively short flowering period, it’s worth it, as the deep rich purple blooms make the perfect foil for lighter coloured perennials and roses. It also makes a wonderfully fragrant cut flower and I like pairing it with Rosa ‘The Lark Ascending’, bringing the outside in.

Rosa ‘Cecile Brunner’ – Climber – June to September – Sun or part shade
This long flowering climber has sprays of delicately scented, double, light pink flowers that will cloak a sunny wall or pergola during the summer months.

Rosa ‘Tuscany Superb’ – Shrub rose – June to August – Sun
The fragrance of this ‘gallica rose’ is a feast for the senses, its deep-crimson double flowers look fantastic when teamed with dark dramatic foliage or flowers.

Rosa ‘Eglantyne’ – Shrub rose – June to September – Sun
A beautiful, long flowering rose with a strong old rose fragrance, I really enjoy the way its soft pink outer petals form a shallow saucer that cradles the smaller ruffles in the centre.

Rosa ‘The Lark Ascending’ – Shrub rose – June to August – Sun
A beautiful vigorous shrub rose that is covered in golden-apricot blooms that have a delicate scent. They are as gorgeous in a vase as they are gracing a garden.

Rosa ‘Reine des Violettes’ – Shrub rose – June & July then September
The lilac-purple flowers of this variety smother the bush on almost thorn-less stems in midsummer and it’ll reward the patient gardener with a second flush in September. I think that the lavender hue works particularly well with grey foliage plants.

Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’ – Rambler – April to June – Sun
An early flowering variety that welcomes Spring to the garden with its delicate scent. This thornless rambling rose will scramble across an arch or pergola and can also be trained through a strong tree. Seeing its delicate lemon blooms always makes my heart sing.

Rosa ‘Souvenir du Docteur Jamain’ – Climber & Shrub rose (if supported) – July to September – Sun or part shade
This elegant, versatile rose was famously loved by legendary plantswoman Vita Sackville-West and I’m in absolute agreement.  It has deep claret coloured flowers and will thrive on a north facing wall, even in poor soils, and it too has few thorns so pruning is less painful!

Rosa ‘Louise Odier’
Climber & Shrub rose – July to September – Sun or part shade
One of my very favourite scented roses, its versatile nature means it can work in a border as a shrub or trained as a small climber.  It is particularly prolific and its strong perfume is wonderful around a seating area, entrance or path.

Jo is listed by House and Garden magazine as one of the country’s top 10 garden designers with designs ranging from tiny rooftop spaces to residential family gardens, public spaces and country estates. Her exquisite planting has led her to be considered one of the UK’s leading plantswomen.

For more information on Jo’s work please visit her website at:

Picture credits: Please note roses depicted are not those recommended in text.

Banner: Chelsea Barracks Garden (Gold) RHS Chelsea 2016 designed by Jo Thompson. All photographs ©Reckless Gardener.