It is rose season at Sequoia Gardens, a time of extremes of joy and despair. It is not really a rose climate; it tends to be too damp when the roses are supposed to look their best. In addition this past season I’ve not always provided the necessary support with feeding and pruning (I don’t do any spraying anyway). But walking through the garden recently and looking at the scene below, I knew where the strength – and the future development – of my roses lay…

Fact: I will never be a neat gardener. Fact: my roses often need to fend for themselves. Fact: roses in an unneat garden having to fend for themselves are a disgrace. Fact: my roses often succeed in being superb despite all these facts! How and why? My best roses flop heavily onto other shrubs, or have a strong supporting cast when they aren’t capable of taking centre-stage. Many are once-flowering old-fashioned shrub roses. Many are tough as nails – what Ludwig, South Africa’s Mr Rose has coined Eco-Chic roses and marked with a red ladybird in his wonderful colour-catalogue. I must stop thinking along the lines of outdated rosebeds! (Except of course for Trudie’s Garden, where that is part of its charm, and where I do try to do the high maintenance thing.) I must accept that the Anniversary Garden is a 60% rose flop and fix it, not as a rose garden, but as a colour-themed garden with many roses. I must nurture the roses in mixed beds if (but only if) they are happy. And I must develop a large area where the old-fashioned roses can grow as huge as they like and flop over complimentary shrubs and be voluptuous and abandoned… the Rondel Garden is too small for most of the old-fashioned roses! And because of the editing nature of photography I can go SNAP! and make it look as though this has all already happened!

Already the Beech Borders display this philosophy rather well. Refine and expand will be the motto here – there is an area of some 30 by 70m next to this that I’ve been wondering about for years now…

It lies in the rectangle between the Standen Walk and the Beech Borders which you can see in this panorama…

At the bottom of the Beech Borders lies the Waterlily Pond…

And beyond that the New Dawn rose is spectacular for the first time this year….

Now let’s reverse back up the Beech Borders…

…until we are under the beech. The round pot contained Raubritter, the wonderful globular pink rose, to mark the intersection of the gardens. It died of neglect. 😦 Down the bottom the magnificent tree fern is a bit of a bind because it narrows down the view of the pond. Ah well… count your blessings. It was there long before my garden, after all!

One of the tricks I wish to explore is the combination of red foliage with pink roses – in fact any foliage that compliments the blowsy badly behaved roses I adore. In my next post I will show you more in other parts of Sequoia Gardens!



  1. Oh, I just love roses and like your ‘natural’ approach. I am interested in seeing how red foliage plays against the pink roses. I also like your idea of just letting them ‘flop over’ and be supported by sturdy shrubs underneath.

    I look forward to seeing more of your garden.

    • Thanks Noelle! This weekend in Johannesburg, where internet is SO much faster, I will post an even bigger rose post which is all prepared for uploading! Jack

  2. What is that RED foliage? Beautiful!

    And I love the roses like that. Big and unruly, and lovely. I like your garden.

    The Tree fern looks happy there. I grow it here, but it has to be protected in winter. I love ferns, and that one is special to me.

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