'Bobbie James' clambers up a rustic arbor in New Mexico

Sharon Cohoon,  – December 22, 2005

“A house eater” is how rosarian Ray Reddell describes ‘Bobbie James’. The cream-colored, small-flowered rose, shown here on an arbor in Nambe, New Mexico, is “one of the most beautiful (ramblers) when in full, majestic bloom,” Reddell says. Garden designer Sarah McCarty agrees ― ‘Bobbie James’ thrives in the arid climate, as long as it has strong support and room to grow. Just expect it to be more vigorous than modern climbers, McCarty cautions.

In Jerilyn Silver’s garden at right, McCarty planted ‘Bobbie James’ against sturdy cedar posts at the potager (kitchen garden) entrance; river willow crossbars guide it up the side. It won’t be long before the rose (which can grow 25 feet tall or more) reaches the top. When it does, McCarty will staple on more willow branches.

Like most ramblers, ‘Bobbie James’ blooms only once in late spring or early summer, but makes up for it by putting on a breathtaking show that perfumes the entire garden. Two other ramblers that grow well in a chilly winter, hot summer climate are ‘Baltimore Belle’ and ‘Dorothy Perkins’. When McCarty can’t find plants locally, she orders from Vintage Gardens in Sebastopol, California (707/829-2035).

Design: Sarah McCarty, Santa Fe (505/982-3266)