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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.

  Leave a reply


  1. Nice setting, nice rose. can you tell me how old the rose was when it first flowered. I planted one 18 months ago out side my house in France and am still waiting for flowers.


  2. brigid

    Thanks very much for your reply. So, we will avoid late pruning, plant a clematitis by it and look forward to next year.

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Brigid

    This rose flowers on last years growth so should only really be pruned in early June (in the UK). If we cut it back in the autumn it doesn’t flower nearly so well the next spring. If we have a mild winter, buds can appear as early as January and it flowers intermittently until the fuller burst in May. It flowers best when we have a cold winter then we have a glorious month of flowers.

    Mine is planted in a dry spot. Southwest facing and had never been fed.

    I am no expert but I think that you might be pruning it at the wrong time of year.

  4. Brigid

    We have one of these (Rosa Banksiae Lutea) growing over a trellis near our front door. It was planted about 3 years ago, and is rambling well, but it is all leaf and virtually no flowers. It has had bonemeal fertilizer.Perhaps it has been wrongly pruned? Or does it need some years of getting established before it flowers? I’m pleased to read these positive comments; I was on the verge of tearing it out. Any ideas please!

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Lila

    Parts of ours are in bud and as it should flower in May in the UK I am thrilled!! I love this rose. It’s a favourite.

    Great idea to let a clematis scramble over it later in the year. What a great tip! Thanks for leaving a comment. Much appreciated.

  6. Lila Das Gupta

    I have this same beautiful rose around my door and cannot recommend Banksia Lutea highly enough. Unlike the wisteria, planted at the same time, this rose is prolific, but not a thug. The fact that it is thornless is an added bonus. I have a late flowering clematis that takes over a few months later and rambles up it.

  7. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Ash, that’s the great thing about gardening. The present and the future.

    We planted a lot of old roses here. We have enough space to let them romp into bushes the size of small shrubby trees (well they are taller and broader than me). These are gorgeous.

    I inherited a wall of rose bushes. Many still survive. We built the chicken run along this wall. The hens love eating the petals when they drop. One rambles over the run and gives them some shade in the summer.

  8. Lovely rose. I am re-planning my allotment to include roses for next season. Right now all I am concerned with is actually growing things but in the winter there will be more planning (including a drip irrigation system) and rose bushes!

  9. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Tea, thanks for dropping by. Yes we are very lucky, the cottage is pretty. Especially when this rose is in bloom.

  10. What an absolutely beautiful home you have!! It`s definately worth having the window light blocked for a bit.


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