The problem is that New Dawn is so good that it has eclipsed many other climbers and ramblers of merit, so allow me to offer some others for consideration.
Follow your nose
I have noticed this month a red and cream peppermint, single-flowered climber named Fourth of July, and it is a gorgeous thing: Trained in a fan about six feet tall and eight feet across, it is a real eye-catcher. I asked Peter Kukielski of the New York Botanical Garden what he thinks of it. He grows many hundreds of roses with a regimen of tough love. As for Fourth of July, I could hear him hesitating on the other end of the telephone.
“It’s beautiful; it’s certainly a conversation piece.” But? “It does get black spot, and the canes are very stiff, difficult to work.” He likes climbers that are more limber, more willing to be manipulated to grow sideways. Why?
The stem of a climbing rose wants to bloom once it has reached its acme. By training the canes sideways, you make them produce a series of vertical shoots that compound the flowering. If you want to grow them up a phone pole or post, twisting them in an upward spiral will create the same response.
His top 30 list includes old varieties, including many I have grown over the years: Alexandre Girault, Mme. Alfred Carriere and Zepherine Drouhin. But it is dominated by more modern varieties that do better in the uniquely stressful climate of the Eastern Seaboard, with our beloved heat and humidity.
Among Kukielski’s favorites, which I don’t know but would like to, are Alister Stella Gray, one of those pale yellow, limp-flowered noisettes of surpassing charm and fragrance; Renae, pink like New Dawn but without the wicked thorns; Garden Sun, a large-flowered apricot-orange rose, and Awakening, a form of New Dawn but with larger flowers and better repeat bloom.
For the past three weeks, I have been enjoying Chevy Chase (not the locale; I enjoy that year-round), a climber with small but multi-petaled and crimson flowers. It is a beauty. It doesn’t repeat through the year, which is fine, but it doesn’t have much of a scent. I think if you are going to go to the trouble of growing and training a climbing rose, it should have an intoxicating fragrance among its romantic bag of tricks.
To that end, Kukielski commends several on his best-performing list: Any with noisette blood in them will be scented, along with some new varieties by the respected German breeder Kordes. Laguna, a repeat-flowering magenta pink, has a strong fruity fragrance. Jasmina is rich pink and a classic old rose form. “Incredibly fragrant,” said Kukielski, curator of the botanical garden’s Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden, now in glorious and early flower in this roller-coaster spring.