At the end of June last year I sat on a chair near this bench (please excuse the tools and netting in the photo – evidence of reconstruction of the fruit cage is distributed throughout the garden!), talking to visitors during one of our NGS openings. A gentleman asked if I had any changes planned for the next year; “Not yet,” I told him, “but I shall definitely have to find somewhere to plant more roses”. I was unable to elaborate at the time as it was a totally spontaneous thought, arising no doubt from the glorious performance of the existing roses last year, and I had no clue whatsoever where and how I was going to find new planting opportunities.
However, the seed was sown and within a couple of weeks a scheme was hatched and by early August the paving adjacent to the bench had been adjusted to create a small bed on either side, a new pergola had been built linking the left hand side of the sitooterie, and the first of the new roses were in situ, ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ (as enthused over by Ali) next to the bench and climbing rose ‘Claire Austin’ on the pergola. These came as container grown plants and I was able to enjoy a few blooms on Lady Em but have not yet had the pleasure of Claire’s company.
During the same period, The Golfer had constructed another pergola to my design, this time between the two of main herbaceous beds, and climbing rose ‘Strawberry Hill’ came to stay at the same time as Claire and Em. Again, there were a handful of blooms on the Hill but, like Claire, climbing won’t begin till later this year. (I will mention Wollerton Old Hall shortly: this is a story with several chapters!).
Before August was out, I had created further planting opportunities, this time against the ‘gallery fence’, ousting the smallest of the herbaceous borders which had never been especially successful but which was now benefitting from more light following the removal of two large hazel trees. The bed has been replanted with ‘England’s Rose’ and ‘The Mayflower’, and as container roses there was a sprinkling of flowers courtesy of the latter, right up till December (since they were planted, the gallery fence has been reconstructed and is temporarily without its pictures).
It doesn’t end there, as existing plans to build low retaining walls around the beds at the foot of the clematis colonnade to improve moisture retention were ‘hijacked’ to incorporate…guess what?… roses! The beds had been planted with hardy geranium but, despite frequent additions to try to bulk out the planting, the intended blocks of colour underplanting the clematis had just not materialised. The evicted geranium and likewise the contents of the gallery bed are being replanted around the garden so will not be wasted. The colonnade itself has been reconstructed and slightly modified to coincide with all these plans.
Choosing roses for these beds was fraught with indecision and fortunately I saw sense before choosing the prettiest and smelliest of David Austin’s shrub roses – although clematis and roses make good partners I did not want the pillars completely obscured by roses, and sensibly put a height restriction on my choices. With heights of no more than 24″ and fragrance and continuous flowering being important factors too, this really limited my choices to dwarf polyanthus and patio roses. Ordered in October and arriving in November came several barerooted ‘Baby Faurax’ front left, ‘Regensberg’ front right, ‘Katharina Zeimet’ back left and ‘Nathalie Nypels’ back right. I have no real experience of these types of roses and look forward to seeing how the closely planted beds work out. ‘Wollerton Old Hall’, admired at the Old Hall itself and frequently on Amy ‘s blog, has been planted on a further new pergola at the back of the colonnade.
Let’s move on to what we call ‘the rose garden’, but which is now no longer the main focus as far as roses are concerned! If you are confused about where all these areas are there is a map under The Garden tab above, which should help, as it is the content and not the layout that is undergoing transformation. I have shown recent photographs of the new terracing here either side of the ‘bus shelter’ and these have now been planted with roses; in doing so we have come almost full circle because for a time I had ground cover rose ‘The Fairy’ here, planted through slate chippings, followed for a couple of years by the huge urns with ground cover rose ‘Magic Carpet’.
Neither of these proved satisfactory, and when I was building the terraces I realised that the soil had never been improved and was probably fairly compacted after so many years covered in membrane and slate chippings. Improving the fertility was a priority before anything new was planted, and as this area will also benefit from more light with the removal of those shadowy trees I am hopeful of success this time. Again time was taken for the rose choice was made and I looked beyond the featured roses in the delectable David Austin catalogue, choosing ‘Spirit of Freedom’ for the lower tiers and ‘Princess Alexandra of Kent’ for the second tiers. The upper tiers have two mature ‘Madame Alfred Carrière’ which already flower magnificently but will benefit further from being released from the membrane and slate and given ready access to soil improvement.
These were ordered and arrived in January, along with other barerooted roses that indirectly came from blogging friends. Let me explain…. Some time at the end of last year Christina, knowing I was planning more roses, suggested I might consider planting some old roses, especially for their fragrance. I think some of the shorter rose varieties that have been planted under the colonnade have some age to them, but I must confess to never having really looked at the ‘old rose’ section of the catalogues, heading straight for David Austin’s English roses, and never having knowingly experienced their fragrance either. I am aware that many of them flower only once and, having not taken this into account in my earliest choices of roses, recent purchase have all involved repeat flowering varieties.
Around a similar time Chloris generously gifted me a delightful book to whet my rose appetite and together their interventions triggered some lateral thinking as I pondered the possibility of other locations where I could branch out and expand my horizons with old roses….and thus it is that there are now three old roses planted in the woodland edge border: ‘Felicia’, ‘Jacques Cartier’, and ‘Rose de Rescht’. And OK, they are all old roses but the temptation is hard to let go of and they are all in fact repeat flowering old roses! I am SO looking forward to experiencing their distinctive old rose fragrance and am exceedingly grateful to Christina and Chloris for pointing me in this direction.
I think I can safely say that 2019 should be a floriferous year… but wait, could there be more?! Yes indeed, but we are nearly there, honest! Almost as an afterthought I ousted the underperforming and variable ornamental quince from the shrub border and replaced it with…yes, you have guessed it… a rose, this time ‘Boscobel’, but that really IS the last of the rose purchases for the time being! At this precise moment in time, that is…
Thank you for your patience in sharing the planning and pleasure of these new additions. I am of course eagerly looking forward to seeing these plans come to fruition and enjoying the colour and fragrance of all the new roses, although I suppose they will barely get into their stride in a single season. In the meantime, if you are wondering about my seemingly bottomless pockets, let me just say that I have had an unexpected financial boost in the last year which has more than justified the apparently gay abandon with which I have ordered whatever rose takes my fancy. Thank you Uncle Douglas!