From Rhonda Fleming Hayes, a Master Gardener and contributing writer for Nature Hills Nursery.
The rose is probably the most well-known, well-loved flower in the garden. Clematis is called "queen of the vines". Such is the beauty of these two flowers; they can hold their own in any landscape. Combine them, and the effect is magical. I first saw this done while living in England. The British are masters when it comes to roses. Rose plants aren't left to stand alone with their bare legs exposed. They are integrated in the herbaceous border or underplanted with perennials like lavender or lady's mantle in formal beds. Their climbing roses often intermingle with twining clematis.
Weaving climbing roses and clematis together can be done in several ways. They can be chosen to bloom one after the other to extend the flowering season, one picking up where the other leaves off. Even better they can be coordinated to bloom simultaneously.
The arbor that marks the entrance to my kitchen garden is a perfect example of rose-clematis compatibility. The deep pink rose "Zepherine Drouhin" climbs up to join hands with the glistening white clematis "Henryii", then cascades back to earth. "Zepherine Drouhin", an old Bourbon rose literally perfumes the air at the height of bloom. Nearly thornless, I don't mind ducking through the branches to enter my garden. After its late spring show I prune back the few unruly canes for a tidier look through summer. Both plants then bloom sporadically through the season with a smaller encore in the fall. Some other combinations worth trying; honey-scented "Climbing Iceberg" with deep red clematis "Niobe" for dramatic contrast, or the pale pink climber "New Dawn" with deeper pink "Carnaby" in a monochromatic blend. Both "Climbing Iceberg" and "New Dawn" are hardy, vigorous climbers known for their disease resistance. Winners of merit by the Royal Horticultural Society; "Niobe" and "Henryii" quickly fill out with dark green foliage that requires little pruning.
Every year after it seems to explode with blooms, my husband remarks that my rose-clematis arbor is out of control. I just think it's out of this world. The brown thrasher's nest on top is icing on the cake