I am sorry to those who are not rose fans, but this is my time. After June the roses will not be so prominent in the garden, and I will stop bombarding you with rose posts.
But for now, indulge me.
I thought I would write a post about the three roses I grow in my bright border. Like most of the roses I grow, these are David Austin English roses, chosen for flower form, scent, health, vigour and repeat-flowering.
Here they are all in one photo. Furthest left is ‘Summer Song’, then ‘Thomas à Becket’ in the middle, and ‘Benjamin Britten’ to the right.
Shall we start with ‘Summer Song?’ This is an odd colour for an English rose. Sort of deeply-saturated peach. Eighties peach. Sarah Ferguson peach.
But I can’t help loving it. Especially with a fantastic clashing colour. Here it is with Lychnis coronaria.
And here it is, looking equally fabulous with Phlox paniculata ‘Purple Flame’. Ok, so you can’t actually see the phlox, but you get the idea. And can I just draw your attention to the splendiferous flower form? The way the petals are perfectly overlapping one another? Does anyone remember the start of the children’s tv programme ‘Camberwick Green?’ It started with a music box which had interlocking leaves in the lid, which opened out as if by magic (or the nearest thing, clockwork). This rose reminds me of that.
If I had to make one little criticism of ‘Summer Song’, it would be that its growth habit is a little too upright, and it tends to send up just a few long shoots. I have pruned it back hard this winter to try to encourage more shoots, and so far, it is looking bushier.
If we move along the border, about in the middle, I have planted Rosa ‘Thomas à Becket’. Like most of my roses, I have planted in a group of three for maximum impact.
I love the wild nature of this rose. It is perfect for the back of the border. It has masses of flower throughout the season, and they dangle gracefully on a lax stem. This is just before bursting into flower. It is a link to the wilds beyond the fence.
‘Thomas à Becket’ associates beautifully with Geranium ‘Brookside’, which threads through the rose, and dances with bees.
‘Thomas à Becket’ is loaded with buds and is never without flower from now to December.
The thicket makes for interesting dead-heading. I probably get more rose-bites from ‘Thomas’ than any other. Perhaps the bloodying is how the rose got its name?
The third rose in the Bright Border is my favourite. It is Rosa ‘Benjamin Britten’. Before the flowers, the foliage provide a lovely orange-tipped prelude. Then come the most delicious coral blooms. They start as a perfect globe.
This bloom opens out to have a flat top. The edge of the petals will just fade slightly in the sun, taking on a vintage silk look. They look wonderful with the dark stems. These flowers really do sing joyously from the back of the border.
They are surrounded by a glorious tangle. A chorus of Centaurea ‘Jordy’, and Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’, with Clematis and Phlox paniculata ‘Starfire’ and Buddleija davidii ‘Royal Red’ joining for the finale.
‘Benjamin’ can look a little more orange-pink, or coral-red, in different lights. He is an incredibly subtle and elusive rose.
I just had a little accident with ‘Benjamin Britten’. I snipped the wrong stem when deadheading, and decapitated a new bloom. But every disaster is an opportunity. So I decided to open out the new bud, to see how it was vacuum-packed. I pushed the flower from behind, from the stem and calyx, and sure enough, the petals opened out, very much like the clockwork music box in Camberwick Green. Then I could see how the innermost petals are folded over themselves, like the segments of a clementine, hiding the anthers within.
And then I put my nose inside. Oh Lors! It was heaven in a sniff. Never was an inhalation so joyous. Fruit Salad! The sweet. Because it was such a concentrated hit of scent. I ran to take it first to Stevie, and then to youngest daughter (Super-taster/Super-sniffer). I was hesitant – I might have confused my fruit salad with my drumstick. But no, she confirmed it was indeed fruit salad, with undertones of melon and banana. Bliss in a bud.
The David Austin description adds “wine and peardrops” to the bouquet. I can’t argue with that.
I hope you have enjoyed this hop around the Bright Border. Do you grow any of these roses? Or do you have your own bright favourites?
By the way, I now have a SEARCH button! I can’t believe how easy it was to add! So now you can search for varieties of roses, dahlias, geraniums, etc.
You can also now see the full list of categories I have written about at the bottom of the page.
If you would like to see more rose posts, click on the ‘Roses’ tab below, or the purple category at the top of this post.