Those of you who read my blog regularly will have picked up on my enthusiasm for David Austin English roses. I adore them for their gorgeous colours and textures, variety of flower forms, health, vigour, repeat-flowering, and of course, rich range of scents.
A week ago, I travelled up to the Lake District for a walking holiday. Guess what is roughly half-way between Kent and the Lake District?
The David Austin garden at Albrighton!
As we pulled into the car park, there was this view over the nursery beds, and the trial beds beyond. As far as the eye could see there were roses.
We were visiting at a mid-point between the first glorious flush of flowers and the second flush of flowers. I would love to visit in the second week of June, which I think is generally the best week in the year to see a tumbling mass of roses in any rose garden.
That said, the garden did not disappoint. This was the display at the entrance to the garden. The cerise rose is ‘Sir John Betjeman’, whilst the burnt orange rose is ‘Summer Song’.
I adore the combination of this deep, dark, burnt orange with any sort of deep pink or purple.
I have been critical of ‘Summer Song’ in the past, owing to its slightly annoying thin and upright growth habit. I must say though, that ‘Summer Song’ was one of the stand-out roses that kept reappearing around the garden in glorious combinations. It holds a unique position among the David Austin roses with its incredible intriguing colour. On a good day, I would also say it is the most marvellously scented rose in the garden. It has a depth and a range of floral and fruity scents which is quite thrilling.
I will come back to ‘Summer Song’.
At the entrance to the garden, there is a stage for roses in pots. These are the best examples of pot-grown roses I have ever seen. I attempted to grow my favourite rose ‘Munstead Wood’ in pots, but I failed miserably. Nosing around here, I think the secret may be an automatic watering system! Can you see the little hose?
My dad and I had a little rummage around in the pots, and were surprised to find that there were three bushes in each pot. This explains their gorgeous plumpness. Growing a rose in a pot is a relatively short-term project; I would expect the roses only to thrive for five years. Growing three to a pot possibly shortens their life further, as they compete for water, space and nutrients. But if you can afford an automatic watering system and three to a pot, they do look gorgeous.
‘Hyde Hall’ was the most glorious rose in the potted rose display. It smelled divine too.
Moving on to the Lion Garden, here’s my mum. I wish I could tell you the variety of palest pink rose that is in front of her, but I forgot to note it down.
The Lion Garden shows roses in mixed borders with geraniums and salvias. The roses win here. Whilst in my garden the geraniums and salvia are allowed to clamber into the roses, wending and winding their way, and sometimes surmounting and surpassing the roses, in the David Austin garden the herbaceous perennials know their place. The gaps between planting were wider than I would like (I don’t like to see bare soil). Some say that roses like to feel the breeze beneath their skirts. I did not think that the roses here were any healthier than mine at home.
It is lovely to see new rose introductions in the flesh. This really helps the decision-making process if you are thinking of buying a new rose. You either feel a connection, or you don’t.
This is a new introduction, ‘Eustacia Vye’. Both this rose and the other Thomas Hardy-inspired 2019 introduction, ‘Gabriel Oak’, floated my boat. Unfortunately my garden is full-to-bursting, so I will have to admire them from afar.
It is also nice to see older varieties that have fallen by the wayside and are no longer heavily promoted in the David Austin catalogue. ‘Charles Rennie Macintosh’ spent a long time on my wishlist when I was planning my rose garden. It lost its position in favour of ‘Boscobel’. I am tempted all over again when I see it!
Between each of the gardens are these avenues with pillars and pergolas for climbing and rambling roses. When the rambling roses have finished flowering, they still look wonderful. We need more shade in our garden, and this is one of my secret plans…
This is the rambler ‘Minnehaha’, still in flower. Most rambling roses flower only once, for four to six weeks. They are absolutely covered in bloom when they are in flower. Ramblers are more vigorous than climbing roses. A rambler will typically cover its structure, be it a pergola, wall or even a shed. English climbing roses struggle to reach more than six feet, and so are more suited to a smaller arch or trellis. English climbing roses will repeat flower through the summer. If you have space, it is lovely to have a couple of each, but bear in mind that the rambler needs space, or it will completely swamp its neighbours.
I really enjoyed the long views around the gardens. Here there were low hedges, allowing the viewer to see layers of roses through the gardens.
I think I must have been feeling a little giddy here, as I have taken a decidedly wonky photo of the formal Italian garden.
Here is ‘Summer Song’ again, this time in the Victorian garden. Do you see what I mean? Even with the marvellously attired photo-bomber to the right, ‘Summer Song’ steals the show.
And here’s ‘Summer Song’ again! This time with ‘Minnehaha’.
Time for a cup of tea and a salted caramel brownie. Who should pop by, but my dear friend ‘Princess Alexandra of Kent’.
Satiated with tea and cake, I had the strength to resist making any unauthorised purchases in the shop. But I did enjoy the display.
The delights were not done. In the car park I spotted another of my favourites, ‘Morning Mist’. Actually I think this was my absolute favourite today. The single blooms of sunset orange are just delicious. The bees agreed.
I grow this rose in the furthest corner of our allotment. It is a perfect rose for a boundary fence. It got me thinking that it would be ideal at the back of my bright border…
I would thoroughly recommend a stop-off at Albrighton. Prepare to be tempted. If you can’t decide between two or more rose varieties, I would strongly recommend meeting up with them and seeing which one you feel a connection with!
The Mindful Gardener is an English rose fanatic. Feel free to explore the ‘roses’ or ‘rose garden’ categories at the top of this page.
If you would like to receive an email notification when a new post is published, then click on the ‘Follow’ button at the bottom of this page and enter your email address. Your email address is not shared with any third parties and there will be no spam. Only roses. And a few other flowers.