The Wonder of Roses

For those of you who thought that a rose was just a rose, (as I pretty much did) then welcome to a whole new world that you can explore.  In David Austin’s book “The Rose” you can kind find a plethora of concise and expertly crafted information on the different types of roses and how long they have been around.  To the uninitiated there are tea roses, floribunda roses, climbing roses and rambling roses and I suspect that everyone is aware of those.  What I found most interesting and inspirational is the concept of using the older roses that only flower once per year in your garden.  This was the norm until the introduction of the Chinese repeat flowering roses.  David Austin comments in his book that we have become so used to having repeat flowering roses in our gardens that the concept of a rose that only flowers once is almost alien to us.  However, if you have a larger garden with enough space why not plant an Alba, Gallica or a Damask rose? Because these only flower once per year they are absolutely stunning as all of their energy and love goes into producing one glorious display of flowers.  I for one have purchased and planted 8 of these roses and a good point is made by David Austin that we expect no more from other shrubs like rhododendrons for example.  I have planted mine alongside paths where they can be admired as you stroll along the many paths in our garden. Admittedly we are lucky enough to have 16 acres at our disposal but even in a smaller space I think that they can be a show piece.  I have chosen (as a starting point) Celsiana, Quatre Saisons, York and Lancaster and the Alba rose alba semi plena.  You can google these to get images or alternatively you could visit the David Austin website.

Now is the perfect time to plant bare root roses, the roots get a chance to spread and establish whilst the rose is not putting its energy into leaf and flower production.

I always plant mine with compost mixed with well-rotted horse manure and I don’t think that you can give them a better start than by sprinkling symbiotic fungi granules over the roots and into the planting hole.

I shall be posting photographs of these lovely roses next year when they are flowering but for now all I can do is look at their leafless branches and imagine the glory to come.  Happy gardening!!



Creating garden rooms with roses

This week I have been planting roses.  The garden here is very steep but is in need of breaking up into intimate garden spaces.  Creating intimate garden spaces on a mountain can be problematic  because whatever is planted as a hedge or boundary  on the lower side has to be substantially taller than what is planted on the upper side.

The project for this winter is really quite simple, break the garden into small intimate spaces with meandering paths so that you can’t always see what awaits you around the corner or in the next garden space.

Some of this I am creating with hedging like yew and beech but some I’ve decided to create with rose hedging.  I have to admit that I am a big David Austin fan and putting a Davis Austin catalogue in front of me is fatal, mainly for my bank balance but hey a garden is for life – right?

Below our sun terrace there is currently a steep but straight wide path leading down the garden to the orchard and the second chicken house where we are creating a wild flower meadow. A path leads off this to the right to the pond, this path has a mixture of shrubs and magnolia trees on either side – really a very long term project.

To the left of this path I have created a Rugosa rose hedge with three different varieties:-

Sarah Van Fleet – a beautiful rose Pink of yellow stamens and a wonderful scent which grows upto 2m high

Mrs Anthony Waterer – Red blooms, good scent and grows to about 1.5m high

Wild Edric – gorgeous pink flowers from May to October and grows  to 1.25 m high

We shall see how they all fare next year, the weather at the moment is ideal as its pouring with rain which will really help to settle the roots.  I also have some older varieties of roses to plant (once the rain stops) and these are a mixture of Alba and Damask roses.  I have the perfect place for these statuesque plants and I have no objection to roses that only flower once a year, I reliably informed that they are more magnificent that the repeat flowering varieties as all of there energy goes into one show.  I’ve never grown them before so let’s see, most roses take a couple of years to settle in I find but I’m a patient man.  So that’s all for today, happy gardening!




To the left of this path I have created a Rugosa rose hedge


Inspirational gardeners

I wanted to share my thoughts about those gardeners, past and present, who have and still do inspire me.  It should be pointed out that gardening for me is a little like breathing or eating, it is essential to my wellbeing and helps give me balance and perspective.

I’ve been a hobby gardener for more than 30 years now but I do have to admit that until I embarked upon this project I was more of a perennial gardener with an especial love for Delphiniums, lupins and phlox.  When we started this project we were very conscious of the fact that although this garden was on a mountain it was pretty empty, in fact, if you were to lift the garden like a table cloth and lay it flat it would have been mostly empty.  What it really needed was some structure and some intimate garden spaces or rooms, so I started reading and researching, this has led to the discovery of 2 famous English garden designers of the past, both women and some modern day heroes, one of which comes from the same county as me in England.

So here we go!

Gertrude Jekyll, a truly inspirational Edwardian woman who defined how many of us garden today with her inspiration use of plants as an artists palette.

Vita Sackville-West, a passionate garden and the creator of Sissinghurst Castle gardens

Monty Don, the host of BBC’s Gardeners World and all round great guy. He inspires me with his down to earth approach to gardening and to life.

Carol Klein, passionate and enthusiastic gardener who taught me (via her books and TV appearances) how to collect seeds, propagate seeds, take cuttings and generally not be afraid to give it a go and save lots of money in the process.

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