Here, before I lose it, is Sarah Raven's list of the 10 best roses for cutting:
1. Princess Alexandra - long-stemmed, magenta, scented, nearly thornless, lasts at least a week in a vase
2. White Gold - a newish Harkness rose, ivory with a tint of green buds opening to white-gold with a pinkish tinge. Scented. Long flowering season, lasts in a vase.
3. William Shakespeare 2000 - dark crimson David Austin rose, well scented. Other reds worth growing are the shrub rose Isabella (almost black, good in a vase but unhappy in the rain), and Big Purple (an HT which needs hard pruning in winter).
4. Golden Celebration - good fragrance, good vase life. Orange/apricot-yellow
5. Graham Thomas - clearer and lighter yellow than (4). Flowers both early and late. Either shrub or climber.
6. Susan - continuous flowering, good scent, lasts better in the vase than any other white rose
7. Winchester Cathedral - delicate white with dark golden stamens, similar to Margaret Merril, but with a longer flowering season, better disease resistance and stronger scent. David Austin
8. Gertrude Jekyll - true clear pink. Repeat flowers until October, the cut flowers last for days. Strongly scented. Very prickly shrub rose
9. Buttercup - another David Austin rose, semi-double flowers in a rich deep yellow with a strong tea scent
10. Louise Odier - a classic French rose (climbing or shrub) producing sprays of lightly-scented pink flowers through to autumn
Sarah recommends cutting roses on short stems to improve vase life, particularly those which tend to a short vase life (Mme Isaac Pereire and Mme Grégoire Staechelin), unless they have good strong stems (Princess Alexandra).
It's striking how many of these are David Austin roses. I'm sorry she left out Pat Austin, a very striking and lovely rose. Also The Pilgrim. And Noble Anthony. But now I'm starting on my own top 10 ...
One Hour Later:
I've just turned the page in last Saturday's Telegraph (not yesterday's - it takes me at least eight days to catch up with the papers), and found more rose recommendations, this time from Michael Marriott, who is a key man at David Austen Roses (and a very good lecturer). Here's his list:
1. A Shropshire Lad - peachy pink 6ft climber, thornless
2. Harlow Carr - strong pink, very healthy
3. Teasing Georgia - healthy, strong tea fragrance, yellow
4. Lady Emma Hamilton - tangerine flowers, one of the most delicious of all varieties for fragrance
5. Queen of Denmark - soft pink, tough, strong fragrance (happy growing under a large birch tree in MM's garden)
6. Celsiana - single flowers, soft pink paling with age, very reliable
7. R forrestiana - one of the best of the species roses, with deep, dusky crimson flowers that are very attractive to bees, followed by shiny crimson hips
8. R Californica plena - semi-double, almost a species rose, free-flowering and well scented
9. Cécile Brunner - covered in pale pink flowers
10. Adelaide d'Orléans - pure white semi-double flowers arching down, good for a pergola
Marriott also makes some suggestions: choose Mortimer Sackler instead of disease-prone Zéphirine Drouhin; Crown Princess and Teasing Georgia over "not so reliable and leggy" Gloire de Dijon (how COULD he??); The Generous Gardener over Mme Alfred Carriere; and Snow Goose over Blush Noisette. Sensible suggestions, I'm sure, but not advice I'd feel inclined to take in three out of the four - but then, I'm perfectly capable of ignoring the weeds or the blackspot and looking with pleasure straight at the lovely flower.
The last list in this Telegraph special on the 30 best roses is a rather depressing list of "top 10 disease-resistant roses" - a depressing list of mainly HT, "ground cover" and "patio" roses.
Marie Curie socks - My Marie Curie socks are done and ready to go off to Sarah. There's still time to make a pair if you're so inclined - Sarah's deadline is 11th. December.
4 hours ago