Now, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty with overseas gardens featuring my favourite plants, roses! Today’s post features English rose gardens, exemplified by David Austin rose, Heritage, the main feature photo for this post, while French rose gardens are discussed tomorrow and those of Italy and Germany on Thursday. This is just a small selection of the huge number of rose gardens in England and no doubt, there are many other wonderful gardens to visit, but here goes…! Firstly, the holy grail of old rose gardens: the National Old-Fashioned Rose Collection at Mottisfont Abbey…
North Romsey, Hampshire SO51 0LP
These beautiful walled gardens hold over 500 varieties of pre-1900 once-flowering Old Roses, which reach their peak in the last two weeks in June, as well as some newer repeat-flowering rose varieties as well. They are open from March to October and attract over 350 000 visitors.
It was created by Graham Stuart Thomas (1909-2003), a plantsman, nurseryman and garden writer and one of the most important figures in 20th-century British horticulture. As a 22 year old foreman at the Surrey nursery, T Hilling and Co. in 1931, he was mentored by 88 year old Gertrude Jekyll, who shared her knowledge about plants, plant groupings, methods of cultivation, colour theory and garden design as art. While at Hillings, he in turn influenced fellow employee, Peter Beales, my next entry!
It was around this time that Graham began to collect old shrub and climbing rose varieties, many of which had fallen out of favour, because they only flowered once during the season.
In 1956, Graham became a partner and director of Sunningdale Nurseries, a position he held until 1971. He established a collection of old roses, sourcing them from all over the world, trialling and selecting the best for British conditions and listing them in his nursery catalogue ‘The Manual of Shrub Roses’.
He went on to write 19 garden books, including his famous trilogy: Old Shrub Roses 1955 (constantly updated and reprinted); Shrub Roses of Today 1962; and Climbing Roses Old and New 1965, all illustrated with his own drawings and paintings.
Graham was an informal advisor to the National Trust from 1948 , when he worked on their first garden, Hidcote Manor, being appointed as their official garden advisor from 1955 on. He was also responsible for the restoration of over 100 gardens, including Sissinghurst Castle (http://www.countrylife.co.uk/gardens/country-gardens-and-gardening-tips/the-history-of-sissinghursts-roses-58258), Stourhead and Mt Stewart, Ireland. He was awarded an OBE for his work with the National Trust in 1975 and the Dean Hole Medal from the National Rose Society in 1996, and is even remembered in the name of one of David Austin’s beautiful golden roses Graham Thomas (photo below).
When he wanted a site to preserve his collection of old roses, he sought permission from the National Trust to use the old walled kitchen garden at Mottisfont. By 1974, he had created a garden that combined roses with a mix of herbaceous perennials in attractive colour combinations to give a season-long display and which showed his strong sense of design and his immense knowledge of plants and love of roses. Planting schemes were based on form, foliage and texture, as well as flower colour.
A gateway set in a sunny, rose-covered wall leads to the first rose garden, with deep box-lined borders, full of rambling roses (Wichuraiana and Multiflora) and climbing roses (Noisettes and Climbing Teas) and clematis, trained on the high brick wall behind, as well as on arches, pillars and pergolas, and beds filled with Bourbons; Hybrid Perpetuals; Chinas; Scots Roses; and a few Rugosa Hybrids.
The main paths crossing the site converge on a central round pond and fountain, surrounded by eight clipped Irish yews, the box-edged paths creating four quadrants each with a central lawn, to house his Gallicas, Damasks, Portlands, Albas, Centifolias and Mosses, under-planted with many of his favourite perennials, chosen for their structure, scent and wide colour palette.
Agapanthus, aquilegias, geraniums, iris, poppies, eryngium and peonies mingle with pinks, allium, bergenias, lilies, campanulas, erigeron, yarrow, phlox, scabiosa, nepeta, lavender and naturalised purple, pink and white Linaria purpurea. The centres of the borders are a mass of soft blues, pinks and whites, whilst stronger yellows, oranges and dark pinks draw your eye along the length of the border. In June, the roses are accompanied by striking spires of white foxgloves. The northern section of the walled garden, with its wide paths, is deliberately planted with a cool colour palette to provide a counterpoint to the central rose garden.
The gardeners dead-head all our modern varieties and any old-fashioned roses that flower more than once, but otherwise leave the hips on the old roses for Winter feed for the birds.
It is an excellent place to study the differences in all the different old rose types: the Gallicas with their large sweetly-scented flowers, up to six inches across; the Damasks with their soft grey-green leaves and pink and white flowers; the Mosses with their resinous stems and buds; and the Teas and Musks with their distinctive scents.
Here is a YouTube videos of the garden , showing its design clearly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-QZExHApYw.
The rose Graham Thomas is on the left of the walk and is the climbing form.Peter Beales Roses
London Rd, Attleborough, Norfolk NR17 1AY
Peter Beales (1936-2013) was a British rosarian, author and lecturer and a leading expert on species and classic roses. He worked under Graham Stuart Thomas, later succeeding him as foreman, at T Hillings and Co., Chobham, Surrey, then the home to the most comprehensive collections of old roses in the United Kingdom.
Peter started his own nursery at Swardeston, Norfolk, in 1967, raising bedding plants, then breeding his own roses, moving to the current site at Attleborough in the late 1970s, when the business outgrew its premises.
He specialised in old-fashioned, rare and historic scented roses, growing 1 200 different varieties at his nursery. He won 19 gold medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show over his lifetime (now 23) and was the President of the Royal National Rose Society from 2003 to 2005. He was given the highest RHS award, the Victorian Medal of Honour, in 2003 and an MBE in 2005. He is also the holder of the National Collection of Rosa Species, holding more than 100 types of wild species roses in Britain. He has written a number of books including Classic Roses in 1985 and Visions of Roses in 1996, see: https://candeloblooms.com/2017/01/10/fabulous-rose-books/.
We also own his romantic VHS video titled ‘A Celebration of Old Roses‘, in which he attributes the start of his love affair with Old Roses with the Alba rose, Maiden’s Blush, at his childhood home. In lieu of this rose, since I don’t have a decent photo yet (!), I have featured another famous old Alba, Alba Maxima (see below).
In 2015, Peter Beales Roses launched the Peter Beales Garden Centre, a specialist rose and plant centre, selling roses, shrubs, climbers and herbaceous perennials. It also has a two acre display garden, a gift shop with garden supplies, tools, books and rose-related products, and a licensed tea room and restaurant. I would love to visit their nursery and display garden in June. See: https://www.classicroses.co.uk/tours-courses-events/our-gardens/our-gardens.html.
The gardens show historic, rare and contemporary roses, growing in unison with complimentary plants like foxgloves, salvia, campanulas, iris, daisies, nepeta and anemones. The roses are displayed along paths and arches, including the iron St Albans Walkway, comprising of four arched walkways, joined together at the centre of a six metre gazebo. There is also a specially designed wildlife garden, pond, children’s woodland play area and stunning observation turret.David Austin Roses
Bowling Green Lane, Albrighton, Wolverhampton, WV7 3HB
David Austin (1926-) is the other big name in the United Kingdom rose world. He started rose breeding in the early 1950s, releasing his first commercially available rose Constance Spry (a cross between a Floribunda, Dainty Maid, and Gallica, Belle Isis) in 1961, followed by Chianti (a cross between Floribunda, Dusky Maiden, and Gallica, Tuscany Superb) in 1967 and Shropshire Lass in 1968.
His early roses were once-flowering in Spring and early Summer, but by 1969, he had produced a series of remontant varieties, bred by back-crossing Constance Spry with other Floribundas and Hybrid Teas, their names based on Chaucer’s Cantebury Tales. For example, Wife of Bath; Cantebury; The Prioress; and The Yeoman.
David’s aim was to produce a rose combining the best of the old Gallica, Damask and Alba roses (form, character, disease resistance and scent) and new Hybrid Teas and Floribundas (repeat-flowering and wide colour range).
Since founding David Austin Roses in 1969, he has introduced over 190 new rose cultivars of English Roses. They are named after:
Family Members eg his wife, Pat Austin; his father, Charles Austin and his mother, Lilian Austin; his daughter, Claire Austin; his son, James. L. Austin, and James’ wife, Jayne Austin; and grand-daughter Olivia Rose Austin, the daughter of his other son, David Austin Junior;
Well-known Rosarians: Graham Thomas; Gertrude Jekyll; Constance Spry; and Trevor Griffiths;
Geographical Landmarks in Britain: Winchester Cathedral; Windermere; and Glamis Castle;
British Gardens: Harlow Carr; Munstead Wood; Wisley; and Kew Gardens;
Historical Ships: Mary Rose (Henry VII’s flagship); and The Mayflower (the English ship that transported the Puritans from Plymouth, England to the New World in 1620);
Historical Characters and Famous People: William Morris; Charles Darwin; Charles Rennie Mackintosh; Sir Walter Raleigh; Thomas a Beckett; Anne Boleyn; Vanessa Bell; and today’s famous actress, Dame Judi Dench;
The works of writers:
Chaucer: Chaucer; The Pilgrim; The Nun; The Reeve; The Friar; The Yeomen; and The Squire;
Shakespeare: William Shakespeare; Wise Portia (The Merchant of Venice); Sweet Juliet (Romeo and Juliet); Prospero (The Tempest); Desdemona (Othello); and Cordelia (King Lear);
Christopher Marlowe: Christopher Marlowe; and Leander;
Thomas Hardy: Tess of the d’Urbevilles; and Jude the Obscure (photo below); and
Coleridge: The Ancient Mariner.
Since then, the roses have been further separated into four groups:
Old Rose Hybrids: These have the appearance of Old Roses, but are recurrent, with a wide colour range eg Brother Cadfael; Eglantyne; Jude the Obscure; LD Braithwaite; and Sharifa Asma;
Leander Group: Wichuraiana parentage; Larger bush with arching growth; Suitable for pillar or use as a low climber eg Golden Celebration; William Morris; and The Alnwick Rose;
English Musk Rose: Iceberg and Noisette parentage; Pale green, slender and airy growth, but musk scent absent in most cultivars eg Evelyn; Heritage; Graham Thomas; Lucetta; and Windermere; and
English Alba Hybrids: Tall, blue-leafed bushes eg Shropshire Lass; and Cordelia.
He has written a number of books about Old Roses (eg The Heritage of the Rose 1990; The Rose 2009/ 2012) and his English roses (eg: Old Roses and English Roses 1992; David Austin’s English Roses 1993/1996 and The English Roses : Classic Favourites and New Selections 2007). See: https://candeloblooms.com/2017/01/10/fabulous-rose-books/.
He has won 23 gold medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and was awarded the RHS Victorian Medal of Honour in 2003; an OBE in 2007; and was named a ‘Great Rosarian of the World’ in 2010.
His two acre ( 0.8 ha) display gardens (http://www.davidaustinroses.com/eu/plant-centre-and-gardens and http://www.davidaustinroses.co.uk/david-austin-rose-gardens showcase 800 varieties of roses: Old Roses; Climbing Roses; Rambling Roses and 150 English Roses, all growing informally within clipped evergreen hedges. Here is a map of the display gardens, from page 272 of his 2007 book: The English Roses.The garden is divided into a number of smaller themed areas, including: the Long Garden; The Victorian Walled Garden; the Lion Garden; the Renaissance Garden; the Patio Garden; and the Species Garden. For more on the display gardens, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ox0PZPv1V98 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Zy3oY0KpFU.
And now for three private gardens: Kiftsgate; Elsing Hall and Mannington Hall.
Chipping Campden, Glos GL55 6LN, United Kingdom
Famous for its Kiftsgate Rose, this garden is worth visiting for all its other roses, as well as the rest of the garden. This Twentieth Century Arts and Crafts garden is set on the Cotswolds escarpment, overlooking the Malvern Hills, and has been in the same family (three generations of women) for over 75 years.
The house was built from 1887 to 1891 by Sydney Garves Hamilton, who developed a paved formal garden in front of the portico. It was bought by Jack and Heather Muir in 1918. Inspired by Lawrence Johnston’s Hidcote Manor next-door, Heather developed the garden organically, rather than drawing a precise plan on paper. She started by extending a lawn from the formal paved garden, then built steps in the steep wooded bank to the lower garden, 150 feet below. She planted hedges of yew and copper beech to create a series of interconnecting gardens, each with its own character. She developed a Yellow Border and a Rose Border and built a summerhouse with views to the west.
Her eldest daughter, Diany Binny, took over the garden in the 1950s, adding a semicircular pool to the lower garden; redesigning the White Sunk Garden to include a small pool and wellhead fountain; and opening the garden to the public on a regular basis.
Dinny’s eldest daughter, Anne Chambers, and husband John have been responsible for the garden since the 1980s and have built a very modern Water Garden on the old tennis court.
Kiftsgate is a typical Arts and Crafts garden with wide herbaceous borders, a four-square garden and terrace, a White Sunk Garden, a Yellow Border, a Rose Border, a rockery, lawns and a bluebell wood. See the website, especially the diary and the map, for more details.
The areas that particularly interest me are :
The Orchard and Wild Garden with Camassias and Tulipa ‘Jan Reus’ blooming under the Spring blossom of heritage apples, medlars, quinces and pears, as well as the Bluebell Wood, filled with English Bluebells, Fritillaria meleagris, wild garlic, Anemone blanda and the odd grape hyacinth inside the entrance gates;
The wide Double Borders of small trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants in pinks, mauves and purples with grey foliage;
The White Sunk Garden with white shrubs: Deutzias, Carpentarias; Hoherias and Staphyllea, underplanted with a riot of colour provided by erythroniums and trilliums in Spring, followed by Summer-blooming anemones, helianthemums, dioramas, santolinas and self-seeding Allium christophii. Roses include: R. sericea ‘Heather Muir’, ‘Diany Binny’, R. soulieana, R. alba semi-plena, White Wings, R. brunonii ‘La Mortola’, R. cooperii and ‘Lady Godiva’; and most importantly of all:
The Double Rose Border, full of old-fashioned, species and modern roses, with a low hedge of Rosa mundi bordering the central lawn path, as well as astilbes, asters and grasses. Some of my favourites are there: Mme Hardy; Stanwell Perpetual; and Honorine de Brabant. The original Rosa filipes ‘Kiftsgate’ rose, planted in 1938 and named by Graham Stuart Thomas in 1951, is said to be the largest in England at over 24 metres wide and 15 metres high and covering three trees. It is covered with panicles of white roses in mid-July. Apparently, 410 flowers were counted on one panicle alone, so it would certainly be a wonderful sight! The Mutabilis on the house wall, climbing 30 feet up to the eaves, would also be spectacular.
Because I do not have the Kiftsgate Rose and am featuring Mutabilis in my post on Italian and German rose gardens, I am featuring William Morris, the name of the founder of the Arts and Crafts Movement and remembered by a David Austin rose, which we are growing in our Moon Bed.Elsing Hall
Elsing Hall, Elsing, Dereham NR20 3DX, UK
Elsing Hall is a medieval manor house, near Dereham, Norfolk, dating from 1470, complete with a fully functioning moat with an arched access bridge. The house is set in a small park with old beech, plane, oak and lime trees and newer plantings of specimen conifers, sweet chestnuts and birches.
The 20 acre garden, including the 10 acre arboretum, was established over 30 years ago by Shirley and David Cargill in 1984 with a number of different areas: a Wild Meadow; Bog Garden; Autumn Garden; Moat Walk; the formal Osprey Garden; a Walled Garden; Arboretum; a medieval Stew Pond, South Terrace Lawn and the village cricket pitch.
It has a unique Gingko Avenue and a maturing Pinetum, but its main claim to fame is its huge collection of over 400 Old Roses covering the walls of the house and walled garden, as well as filling the borders, including: Rambling Rector, Albertine, Francis E Lester, Paul’s Himalayan Musk, Adélaïde d’Orléans, Veilchenblau, Mme. Alfred Carrière, Cardinal de Richelieu, R. gallica officinalis, Souvenir du Dr. Jamain, Charles de Mills, Empress Josephine, Alba Maxima, Great Maiden’s Blush, Celestial, R. centifolia, Fantin Latour, Ispahan, Kazanlik, Blanche Moreau, Mme Grégoire Staechlin (see photo below), Königan von Dänemark, Phyllis Bide, Constance Spry and Roseraie de l’Hay. The Moss roses lining the Stew Pond are particularly romantic and include Général Kléber and Maréchal Davoust.
The property is now owned by Patrick Lines or Han Yap and the garden is open to groups of 20 or more people by arrangement. It also had an Open Day on the 25 June 2017 and there is guest accommodation in the restored old stables/ coachhouse: http://www.bookcottages.com/cottages/105-1165-elsing-hall-old-stables.htm.
I would love to visit the garden in June, when they are in full bloom, but the other seasons hold promise as well: Snowdrops and aconites in January/ February; drifts of daffodils in March and April, camassias, bearded irises, delphiniums, tulips and peonies in May and the herbaceous borders in July and August.
For more on this lovely garden, read pages 42-47 of the February/ March 2016 edition of the English Garden on: https://www.chelseamagazines.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/TEGFebMarch2016.pdf.
My last rose garden for this post is:
Saxthorpe, Near Itteringham, Norfolk, NR11 7BB
Another moated medieval country house, dated 1464 and owned by Robert Walpole, the 10th Baron Walpole, Mannington Hall is another 20 acre garden famous for its old roses, with over 1000 varieties. In his book, Visions of Roses, on page 43, Peter Beales describes it as ‘one of the finest and most important collections of historic roses in the world’.
The one acre walled Heritage Rose Garden is a living museum of 1000 years of rose history. It includes:
Species Rose Border against the entire south wall: R. moyesii Geranium, R. chinensis Viridiflora and R. omeiensis pteracantha;
Medieval Garden: Wattle entrance hurdles and fences, covered with R. moschata and Rambling Rector; Circular beds of Gallicas (R. gallica officinalis, Rosa Mundi (see photo below), Jenny Duval); Albas (Great Maiden’s Blush); and Damasks (Quatre Saisons; Kazanlik) with Scots Rose, R. pimpinellifolia;
Classical Garden: Roses from 1700 to 1836: Centifolias, Mosses, Bourbons and Noisettes: Champney’s Pink Cluster; Blush Noisette, Aimée Vibert and Desprez à Fleurs Jaunes;
Jekyll Garden: Octagonal garden made up of trellises covered with ramblers and climbers popular with Gertrude Jekyll: Dorothy Perkins; Debutante, Minnehaha, American Pillar, Cupid, Silver Moon and Elegance;
Between the Wars Garden: Hybrid Musks: Ballerina, Buff Beauty, Felicia and Belinda;
Modern Rose Garden: Iceberg, Peace, Piccadilly, Silver Jubilee, Constance Spry, Graham Thomas, Chaucer, Mary Rose, Frühlingsgold, Parkdirektor Riggers and Margeurite Hilling; and La Mortola.
Outside the Heritage Rose Garden is:
Victorian Garden: Mosses, Hybrid Perpetuals: Baronne Prévost and Empereur de Maroc; and Bourbons: Belle de Crécy, Boule de Neige, and Mme Isaac Pereire;
Sweet Briars: Meg Merrilees and Lady Penzance;
Rugosas: Blanc Double de Coubert and Roseraie de l’Hay;
Post-Modernist Garden: Recent rose varieties;
Temple Garden: Rambling Rector; and Pimpinellifolia collection;
Shrubberies: Trial roses from the 1980s: Sadler’s Wells; William and Mary; John Grooms; and Gallica hybrid, Scharlachglut, scrambling 20 feet into a Kanzan Cherry;
Moat banks covered in R. wichuraiana and Fru Dagmar Hastrup;
House gardens: Mixed borders backed with 10 foot walls, including Golden Showers, James Mason, Kiftsgate, R. bracteata, Ramona and Guinée; Formal beds of Hybrid Teas and Floribundas; and a R. banksiae lutescens against the south wall of the house. This garden actually has all four Banksian roses: Single and Double Whites and Single and Double Yellows.
There is also a Knot Garden with scented plants, including Bourbon, Louise Odier, Modern Shrub Rose, Anna Pavlova, and a number of R. eglanteria varieties; a Sensory Garden with plants selected for touch, sound and taste, as well as smell and colour; and a 4.3 hectare wet Wildflower Meadow. It is also possible to stay there with a small low key glamping venture called Amber’s Bell Tents: https://www.airbnb.com.au/rooms/18353490 and http://www.ambersbelltents.co.uk/mannington-hall.
Tomorrow, I will be posting my bucket list of French Rose Gardens.