You don't always have to grow a plant the usual way, with respect for its natural habit. Every September I am both amused and impressed to see the wild almond-scented Japanese clematis used as an edging to a rose bed, just as you would use dwarf box.
It is supported on those edgings of interlaced wires, about a foot high. The clematis covers them completely and bushes out two inches on each side. If it tries to grow upward there is nothing to support it, and any exuberant shoots at the side are simply clipped off.
You might think it would be daily work to keep so robust a vine, which happily grows up a tree to 30 feet, to a foot in height, but it's not. The vine adapts nicely. Not only is the edging beautiful all spring and summer and fall, but its little white flowers are so abundant in late summer that the green can hardly be seen.
Another example: The first time I became aware of the rose 'Silver Moon' was decades ago when I saw it growing up into old oaks, 30 feet high. This was not in woodland, but in a grove around a house, where the trees were in parkland with plenty of sun filtering down between the trees, which were shorn of branches to perhaps 20 feet or so.
In the first place, nobody (except these people) ever dreamed of using an oak as support for a rose, and certainly not the large-flowered 'Silver Moon,' which has something of the beauty of the wild Cherokee rose about it. If you were determined to try roses in oaks, however, you would most likely use one of the old Ayrshires, now largely out of commerce, or even a multiflora rambler like 'The Garland.'
Anyway, there the 'Silver Moon' was, a number of plants up a number of trees. I suppose they had been started up the trees long before the lower branches were sawed off.
The usual habit of this rose is to cover a garage wall or a fence, billowing out in an attractive way (unless you treasure each inch of space in a small town garden, in which case the billowing business will drive you mad). Another rose equally attractive in its habit of rounding out when grown on a fence is 'Climbing American Beauty.'
But it can be persuaded to grow not only up trees but also as a fat bush. It will make a globular pudding six feet across. Its foliage is deep shiny green and its large single white flowers for two or three weeks in May are extremely handsome and moderately scented. I can think of much better choices for a large specimen bush rose than 'Silver Moon' (the splendid perfumed cluster-flowered 'Moonlight,' for one, as its new growth of copper is handsomer than 'Silver Moon' and it blooms not only in May, but off and on in summer, with a heavy flowering again in mid-September or early October).
The point, however, is that some roses can be used a number of ways.
The great five-petaled yellow climber 'Mermaid' is endlessly vigorous and, you may as well be warned, endlessly thorny, but I have seen it both in Memphis and San Antonio used as a great free-standing shrub. The same thing can be done with the double white perfumed 'Mme. Alfred Carriere.' All three of these repeat their bloom freely in summer and fall and on that score are better choices than 'Silver Moon,' and their foliage is even better, also.
The low-growing rose often used as an edging, 'The Fairy,' is unsurpassed for a steady display of pink clusters, unfortunately scentless, and it grows dense enough to be relatively weed-proof as a hedge or ground cover, once it is established. It is a good and common choice for planting around fish pools. It can be clipped and shaped into an informal hedge, but the thing I find attractive about it is that it will grow upward, if planted at the edge of shrubs, to four feet or a bit more. Once I planted it along a sidewalk in front of a screen of fall-blooming camellias. The camellias were at their best in November when the rose was finished, but the rose bloomed all summer up among the camellia branches and was surprisingly pretty.
One of the most beautiful climbers is the trumpet vine, especially in the variety 'Mme. Galen,' which has flowers twice the usual size. Like all trumpet vines, however, it can occupy vast space in the garden. It is not a vine you can plant and forget for 10 years.
But I have seen it grown up four-inch posts, the stems kept bare for about eight feet, then allowed to fountain out in luxuriant leafage. From July to October great melon-sized clusters of bloom appear against the dark foliage with spectacular effect. In March, of course, you have to get on a ladder and cut all the old flowering stems back to within an inch or so of the main trunk. In this way the vine is kept under strict control, and while the effect is highly artificial it is also extremely colorful. It is particularly impressive if a series of posts are each planted with this vine, and of course the other trumpet vines could be treated the same way.