I made my rose garden in the winter of 2016/17, and then extended it this last winter.
The rose garden doesn’t cover a huge area. It is about 7m x 5m. I made the Bright Border a couple of years before the rose garden, incorporpating all of the showstopper plants I love. But now I think that if we ever need to move to a smaller garden, it will be the rose garden that I will want to recreate. I love its softness and subtlety, and there is no nicer place to sit and drink a morning coffee.
If we walk around anti-clockwise, as I do each morning, we encounter Rosa ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ first. The first bud is just about to pop open, but for now is making a very satisfying ball of peach. I love the shadows between the layers of outer petals.
‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ has the most handsome of all rose foliage, being dark green and burgundy, which sets off the peachy-pink blooms perfectly.
Here is that bloom again, later in the day. I love the way a lot of the David Austin English roses have a hollowed out middle like this. It gives a lovely depth of tone to the inner petals. I also adore the combination of apricot in the centre and peachy-pink on the outer petals. And her fragrance! Oh! [falls over backwards in a swoon of citrusy lemon].
‘Lady Em’ is probably my second-favourite rose for anyone who read my love-song to ‘Munstead Wood’ yesterday.
I have deadheaded the first flush of Lupin ‘Thunderclouds’, leaving the second wave of smaller, more delicate flower spikes. The delicacy comes from wider gaps between the individual flowers. I think I might prefer these to the first flush.
Rosa ‘Boscobel’ is also about to burst. This has lovely egg-shaped buds, and delicate veining on the petals. My super-taster and super-sniffer daughter identified rhubarb in the bouquet of this rose. Once she had named it, I could smell it too. The David Austin description is “myrr, hawthorn, elderflower, pear and almond.” I need to work on my rose nose.
It was a visit to Sissinghurst which led to me buying both ‘Boscobel’ and ‘Princess Alexandra of Kent’. I didn’t see them in the garden, but in the plant shop. There is nothing like seeing a flower in the flesh to help you fall in love. In fact, it was this encounter that made me extend the rose garden this winter so that I could fit in more roses. Here is that same bloom, still being shy, later in the day.
The Gallica rose, ‘Tuscany Superb’ is known as ‘The Velvet Rose’ with good reason. There is just something about an old rose. It may only have one flush of flowers in June, and the blooms may be smaller than a modern rose, but it just has a romance, a plushness of texture, and a depth of colour that other roses can’t match. And is incredibly healthy. And the depth of the scent is intoxicating [falls over backwards again and crushes several penstemon stems].
Let’s just pause and enjoy some other plants for a moment. This is Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’, my favourite salvia for mixing with roses. I love the black stems, and the deep purple flowers complement any rose colour. It is also lovely with Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’ which you can see here in The Evening Light.
I just want to show you Peony ‘Felix Crousse’. It has produced two quite different flowers. One huge and blowsy:
And one lighter, semi-double, and revealing its anthers. Peonies often provide a main flower and a couple of smaller flowers off the same stem. This one has its own stem, but just decided to be different. I love nature.
This next flower is Geranium ‘Sirak’. I love the elegant shape to the petals, with their little notch in the centre. The violet veining against the white centre and lilac petals is also rather lovely. This geranium just flowers the once in June and July, but is generous with this flush. It has an innocent quality I find endearing.
You may need sunglasses for the next one, Rosa ‘Lady of Megginch’. There are two blooms out, and they are huge! They are a gorgeous cerise-coral colour. I think every rose garden should have its out-and-out “Mine’s bigger than yours” show-off. Lady Meg is mine.
Being a little shy is Rosa ‘Jubilee Celebration’. This has a lovely creamy, silky opacity. The shape of the centre of the bloom is known as ‘quartered’, as the petals swirl from four quarters. Though I must say this one looks like a star shape. It reminds me of a kaleidoscope, with the same image of petals reproduced many times over, turning at different angles. This is a very polite rose. If I were serving tea to the Queen, I would grace the table with this rose.
We’ll just swoop over the middle of the bed.
To find the delectable peach, Rosa ‘Roald Dahl’. If I weren’t so devoted to Lady Em, my head might be turned. I hardly dare to lower my nose…
Geranium ‘Orion’ is looking lovely. Soon it will be intermingling with ‘Roald Dahl’ in a beautiful airy tangle.
We’ll just look through this Aquilegia ‘Hensol’s Harebell’ starting to set seed.
Another glowing beauty is ‘England’s Rose’. This has quite small flowers, about 5cm across, but produces them in abundance all summer long, through the autumn, and into December. It is a rufty-tufty little rose. When each flower first opens, it seems to luminesce.
Less glowy, but more soft and creamy is ‘Princess Alexandra of Kent’. The texture is of very plush silk. She looks rather lovely cavorting with Erodium manescavii.
Eromdium manescavii deserves a picture to itself. Look at the filigree markings on the petals. The white leaf-shape at the base of each petal reminds me of stained glass. This is an astonishing flowerer. It produces sprays of flowers on each stem, and was still in flower in December last year. It also seems to self-seed liberally, and is coming up delightfully in the gravel of the seating area.
And finally, let us not forget the quiet, gentle ones. Next to the Erodium is the diminutive Geranium versicolour. Whilst its flowers may not be so showy, this is an equally prolific self-seeder, and is also spreading itself through the gravel.
Shall I leave you with a couple of long-views across the rose garden?
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