The Beech Borders are going fortissimo. In the foreground Spiraea x bumalda ‘Anthony Waterer’, an excellent companion to pink roses is starting its long season. Behind it on the very left is Mme Ernest Calvat. To the right of it pale pink New Dawn cascades into Berberis thunbergii var. atropurpurea, a wonderful foil for it. To the right of the spiraea Belle de Crecy is a perfect colour-match. In the background Ispahan, past its prime, still puts on an amazing show; below it is still in its prime.
Ispahan seen in close-p above is a Damask Rose from the Middle East which has been grown for nearly 200 years. It is closely related to Rosa damascena from which Attar of Roses is distilled. Belle de Crecy, below, is a mid 19th century Gallica. The way its quartered blooms seem to have neon highlights and become overlaid with grey shadows make it one of the most desirable of all old roses.
I cheated and picked the umbel of Anthony Waterer to show how well these two plants blend. One of the bought roses, Gertrude Jekyll, a David Austin English Roses and thus a recent introduction, is there as much for the associations with her name as for the way she blends in – and continues flowering once the Old Roses are just a memory!
Duet is a bit of an oddity here. A 1960 Hybrid Tea rose, it is everything the Old Roses are not – including scentless. But I love it. And so it lives rather uncomfortably, surrounded by the lush profusion of this part of the garden.
Several years back I planted many cuttings I had grown from my collection of Old Roses in the Rondel Garden ( now sadly depleted) in the area around the Beech Borders. Many are obvious as they form part of the actual border. Others were planted amongst wild grasses nearby and left to cope as best they could. This summer I was surprised to see how many had survived – and well enough that I know with a little more attention they will thrive. Even more heartening was the fact that several were varieties I had lost in the Rondel Garden and forgotten I had successfully propagated!
Rosa roxburghii or the Chestnut Rose, called thus because of its prickly calyxes, also has a pale, flaky bark. There are some authorities who believe it isn’t even a species of Rosa. But I couldn’t agree with them!
One of the most exciting discoveries was Variegata di Bologna; I had completely forgotten my success with this Bourbon Rose. Bred in 1909 it is beautiful, but needs complex tying in to flower to its maximum potential. The mother-plant in the Rondel is surviving – just…
Pink Grootendorst looks more like a carnation than a rose. It is a Rugosa hybrid from 1923 and a very easy rose with which to succeed. Like all rugosas its stems are immensely prickly – in fact it is the only rugosa I have succeeded in growing from cuttings and I (rather randomly I guess) blame the prickles!
I need to get on with my day, so I will leave my remaining pics for a further post. But let’s end with another of my joys, one of which I have three examples but have lost the mother plant. It is rather a curious rose, thrust at an unsuspecting world between the wars by Nancy Lindsey, the gushy daughter of Norah, the talented and fascinating Edwardian society gardener, and the heir to Lawrence Johnson (of Hidcote Manor)’s French Riviera property, La Serre de la Madone. It seems to be agreed that it is old, although it repeat flowers quite well. It is compact and gloriosly scented. It is not a Damask and not a Portland. To me it seems most like a Gallica. And Miss Lindsey’s purple prose (for which she was famous) for once describes the rose rather well, even if it is a bit of a red herring as to where she got it. Oh yes: it is called Rose de Rescht.