- If I could only have one flower it would have to be the rose. In June the garden is only half dressed if it is not filled with the scent of roses. When we came here nearly nine years ago there were a few roses but not nearly enough. Some of them had obviously been chosen for the name: ‘Home, Sweet Home, ‘Happy Anniversary’, ‘Memories of a Golden Afternoon’ and even ‘Happy Retirement’. Only a non- gardener would choose a rose with a name like that. I don’t mind choosing a rose for its name if it called something like ‘Reine des Violettes’, ‘Diablesse de Mers’ or ‘Cuisse de Nymphe Emue’ (which is known as ‘Maiden’s Blush’ in English to spare the describers’ blushes) but some of the others had to go. ‘Boogie’ Woogie’ is still hanging on in there, but living on borrowed time, I tell people I can’t remember its name if they ask me.
I just counted up and I realise I have added more than forty roses since I came here, some of them grown from seed or cutting and others bought. But still there are not enough, I shan’t be happy until every tree has a rose cascading from it. Let’s start with my seed-grown babies, actually you couldn’t call the first one a baby, it has grown to the top of a tall holly and cascades down very glamorously in a torrent of white foam.
Its father was the scarily vigorous Rosa ‘Kiftsgate’ and its mother was ‘Wedding Day’. I think it looks lovely with the red leaves of the Forest Pansy, ‘Cercis canadensis’
My next one is more restrained in growth, it’s mother was the lemony ‘Paul’s Lemon Pillar’ which was a favourite of Vita Sackville- West and I am not sure who the father was.
There was a large standard rose in one of the beds here which had to go, not just because it was called ‘Golden Wedding’ but because I don’t like standard roses. I cut it down because I was too lazy to dig it up. From the base there grew a lovely, vigorous rose which now climbs on the fence. I don’t know what it is but the horrible standard had obviously been grafted onto it. It is so pretty and has lovely glossy leaves.
I have found that some roses are very easy from cuttings and some quite stubborn. The pretty soft pink climber ‘New Dawn’ is very easy.
‘Albertine’ is easy from cuttings too, I love its deep pink buds and delicious fragrance.
I love the simplicity of single flowers and Rosa ‘Cooper’s Burmese’, also grown from a cutting, has huge white flowers and healthy, glossy foliage.
‘Cooper’s Burmese’ is very prickly and very vigorous but I have two much more vigorous ones totally covering the poor apple trees that they are climbing up. The first is ‘Paul’s Himalayan Musk’ which is a great favourite of mine, it has sea green leaves and masses of soft pink flowers.
Peachy ‘Treasure Trove’ is probably even more vigorous as it was a seedling of ‘Kiftsgate’. I didn’t realise this when I planted it. I first saw it looking wonderful on a tree in my friend Anne’s garden where it was beautifully trained and perfectly behaved. It has smothered the apple tree where it is growing here and clearly has designs on a nearby pear tree.
Some of my climbers are much more restrained. The lovely tea rose ‘Lady Hillingdon’ ambles lazily along the wall and can hardly be bothered to raise her beautiful heads which are a scrumptious apricot colour.
The previous owners planted the climbing David Austin ‘Teasing Georgia’ in the shade of a weeping willow and with nothing to climb up, now she has a support she is growing much better and puts up with the shade without complaint.
‘Alberic Barbier’ doesn’t grow very tall either, he has not climbed very high up his tree yet. This is a lovely rose with glossy leaves and gorgeous rather shaggy double cream flowers.
I have another climbing David Austin rose with very pretty, very fragrant flowers. It is called ‘The Generous Gardener’
In the front garden there are two silvery weeping pears Pyrus salicifolia. Why somebody thought that two weeping pears side by side were a good idea I don’t know. But never mind, they make good climbing frames for the purpley-violet ‘Veilchenblau’ and the delightful clusters of ‘Felicité Perpetué’.
Of course many of these climbers and ramblers only have one brief moment of glory but they don’t all bloom at once. The lovely single ”Francis.E. Lester’ is only just opening its buds and ‘Blush Rambler’ is still to come. Then there are a few like the glorious ‘Phyllis Bide’ which seem to bloom all summer. I have it on both the arches into my secret garden and it is a wonderful sight.
So far I have just mentioned some of my ramblers and climbers but that is enough for one post. As I am totally intoxicated by roses at the moment there will be another rose post very soon.