The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Old roses: Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’

rosa banksiae lutea in full yellow bloom over our cottage doorway

Photo: The most attractive Lady Banks' rose in full bloom

I planted this beautiful rose beside the front door fifteen years ago, following the advice of Saggers nursery in Newport, Essex. Saggers give really good advice. In fact most of the best plants and stunning shrubs in our garden come from them. Being privately owned they are a good bet compared to the more commercial local nursery gardens.

This is Rosa Banksiae ‘Lutea’, a rambling rose that does not drop its leaves in winter in this part of the world. It’s also virtually thornless and the clusters of small double petalled flowers delight us through the month of May.

When to prune
Our specimen is rather wild. We give it a good crew-cut just after flowering as the flowers only appear on last year’s growth. Because this rose romps away all summer, it has several light trims to keep it in shape and always flowers abundantly in the Spring.

As you can see, the weight of the flowers has pulled the branches down over our sitting room window. We are happy to put up with the nightclub lighting for a few weeks as the blossom is so heartening. If a rose only flowers once a year you want to enjoy its moment 100%. In fact with global warming, it flowers in a small way from January, in small bursts.

I visualised that the word Banksiae described a rose that rambled over banks (the grass ones rather than the High Street version). I imagined that Titania would laze on a Banksiae strewn mossy bed.

I discovered this morning that Lady Banks bred this rose in 1825. Her husband was Sir Joseph Banks, a naturalist, who travelled with Captain Cook when he discovered New Zealand. I must admit that this tickled me. His wife was breeding this wonderful rose as he roamed. Over two hundred years later we are still enjoying the blossom. Her rose is spectacular.

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    I have a number of Rosa Banksiae. The Double White. The single White and the Yellow. It sometimes flowers in December but this year the yellow one on the South of the house has just started. The white ones are not flowering yet. It is a most beautiful yellow tiny rose flower but unfortunately no scent. The white one has a slight scent. It is vigorous and I believe it comes from the mountains of China or the Himalayas. It can handle cold weather. It will grow up to 30 40ft but tends to flower at the top so it needs careful pruning and training if you want it to flower all over. It is not easy to propagate by cuttings like most roses. I have succeeded at a rate of about 10%. It probably needs misting. The white one however is much easier to propagate by cuttings 50% success rate. It has no thorns so it good over a doorway. If you plant it with a Clematis say Montana Rubens it makes a good contrast.

  2. C. Hale

    When is the best time to take cuttings of the banksea liutea ?

    • I have a Rosa lutea, it must be 20 years old now, covering a pergola & taking over a Magnolia nearby. The main stem is as thick as a tree trunk & it is pushing the pergola over. If i cut back to this main trunk to renew the pergola will the rose regenerate or will i need to replace it?
      Thank you!

  3. Marion

    Fiona, does Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’ have a scent?
    I long for roses with beautiful old fashioned perfumes.
    Prima Ballerina and Jude the Obscure have recently been recommended. I really need something which takes care of itself as I’m a lousy gardener!

    • Victoria Weatherburn

      Try rose Compassion, you will not be disappointed! Beautifully shaped buds, lovely colour and incredible scent,
      very easy to grow and trouble free!

  4. I planted the Rosa Lutea on thick posts located on either side of my door. It’s been one year, and I haven’t seen much growth from the plants. Do you recommend a fertilizer? Also, do you have a good method to get the roses to climb the post? How often should I water them when they’re this young?

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Elin

    Mine flowered in the first year after I planted it. The rose flowers on last season’s growth so a short back and sides or even a trim in the autumn is unwise.

    So cut it very hard back in the Spring. Ignore the dangly bits and the next spring you will be rewarded.

  6. Elin Gibbon

    We have a Rosa Banksia planted two years ago to cover a trellis archway in full sun in our back garden. It has put out an enormous amount of beautiful foliage, but not a single flower! What to do? We live in the West Midlands, the garden is quite sheltered. Should we move it?

    Would appreciate any helpful comments/advice.

  7. A friend of mine has just planted one of these in the South of France, I must give him the tip about planting a clematis with it. I don’t think he realises how big it might grow as he was quite vague when I wondered where he might train it having remembered your picture on this post.

  8. I am delighted to have information about pruning as mine has exceeded all expectations here in SW France. I grow clematis tangutica through it – which continues the yellow theme.

  9. Ian Redding

    We have had a Banksia Lutea planted on a west facing wall for about eight years, but it is yet to flower properly – we had the first two blooms the year before last – none since!! I have left it un-pruned for three years on the trot, just to see if it made any difference. No luck!!

    I am wondering whether we are too far north – we are 17 miles north of Liverpool, but don’t get many heavy frosts.

    I bought it because I was sooooo impressed with the one at Erddigg Hall near Wrexham, which is about 35 miles south of our location.

    Would appreciate any comments

  10. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Phil

    As far as I can remember it had a few flowers the summer after I planted the rose.

    The main thing with this rose is not to cut it back in the autumn as it flowers on branches that have grown the year before.

    Might be worth feeding it and giving it a decent mulch now – stuff from the compost covered with bark or broken down grass clippings. The resulting spurt of growth should give you flowers in May/June and probably a mini flush before then.

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