Sunday, 5 July 2015

Good year for the roses ...

The very best time of the year is right now. Right this moment. When the roses are out, and the foxgloves, delphiniums, sweet peas and honeysuckle are their good companions.

I just can't resist giving a snapshot (literally) of the roses currently in bloom in the garden. This year a lot of my Old roses are blooming well for the first time, and growing strongly. Although late to flower, due to the cold spring, all the roses are loving the current conditions of warmth and rain, and they are putting lots of new growth on. I am having to support quite a few, due to the weight of the blooms pulling down the canes, particularly after heavy rain.

Being a sad anorak, these photos are loosely ranked, with my favourites coming first, and those I tolerate drawing up the rear. There are lots of other roses which didn't have a flower to photograph,  so I hope to get photos as new blooms appear.

Wollerton Old Hall
The most gorgeous rose ever. A huge, romantic David Austin English Rose. Currently covered in massive  blooms, each one having the most glorious scent.

'Jude The Obscure

'St Swithuns'

'Rennes de Violettes'

'Charles de Mills'

'Teasing Georgia'

'Alissar Princess of Phoenicia'

'White Pet'

'Gruss an Aachen'

'Gentle Hermione'

'You're Beautiful'

'Geoff Hamilton'

'Cardinal Richelieu'


'Comte de Chambord'

'Cream Abundance'

'Alberic Barbier'


'Pink Abundance'

'Greenall Glory'

'Champagne Moments'

'William and Kate'

'Munstead Wood'

'Shropshire Lad'

'Silver Wishes'

'The Countryman'

'Attenborough rose'


 'Pearl Anniversary'

'Mme Alfred de Dalmas'

'Mme Alfred Carriere'

'Belle Poitivine'

Bit of a cheat as it is not in flower now. The flowers are a clear, bright pink, but the foliage on its own, makes it well worth growing. Apple green, healthy, vigorous and unusual!

'Rosa Mundi'


'Mme Hardy'


'Pearl Anniversary'

'Teenage Spirit'

'Absolutely Fabulous'

'Waltz Time'

So, 'Waltz Time' is on borrowed time at the bottom of my list of roses, as it is my least- loved ! 'Wollerton Old Hall' is number one, and many of the the ones in between are interchangeable, depending on how they are looking and how I am feeling. 

I would love to know your own personal favourites ... and least favourites, which, I would hazard a guess, will be totally different to mine, as like all gardening, it is all down to personal taste !

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Time to smell the roses ...

The way I am currently feeling reminds me of something, and it has taken me a while to identify what it is ... it is that Post exam feeling, which is a  strange mixture of relief and anti climax. Trouble is, it wasn't my Finals, or my 'A' Levels, but our NGS Open Day which was the cause!

Now, at last, we have free time to relax and smell the roses, but I am really missing that burning focus which propelled me from my bed at an unGodly hour to weed or hoe or stake, to get the garden ready before the gates opened. I can remember that same feeling after all life events which have taken a lot of preparation, and it takes a while to get back to normality. Prior to the big event, all you can think about is how wonderful it will be afterwards, and how great it will feel to do nothing, but the reality is often very different.

We opened last Sunday, 21st June, and had an excellent day, making the best part of £500 with entrance, plants and teas. All proceeds went to Macmillan, Hospice UK and other cancer charities.

So, cakes were eaten, plants were discussed, plants were bought ... and the sun shone! That is a minor miracle in this summer of cold grey skies. The day before was grey and rainy, as was the day after, so we were extremely lucky. We met lots of lovely people, saw many friends and made new ones. People were very kind and many said lovely things about the garden.

We found it very inspirational to be in the company of people who are so passionate about plants and gardening, and it has really fired us up for the future.

Since we opened though, we have worked really hard making changes and improvements - so much for sitting in deck chairs! I have already re-worked part of a bed, and re-planted it, and we have developed the more formal area further, adding more pots and rearranging.

We have another open day in a month, as we open along with lots of other gardens in our village, to raise funds for the church. This gives us time to make  any changes we want to, and to cut back things which have already gone over. It also gives time for me to plan and sow all the biennials for next year. Over the last few years I am becoming more and more reliant upon the colour they bring to the garden.

For 2016, I have chosen to grow foxgloves (Suttons Apricot), sweet williams (Single, mixed), dwarf wallflowers (Scarlet Bedder) and Sweet Rocket.

The biggest success, from seed, this year, for me, has been Suttons 'Apricot' foxgloves and I recommend them wholeheartedly. They are the most amazing soft colour, and make fabulous companions for roses and delphiniums. I will certainly be growing them every year from now on. They were easy to grow, and seem able to cope in varying conditions around the garden.

I also grew Sweet Rocket for the first time this year, but it had nearly finished by the time we opened the garden. In its prime it filled the garden with colour and scent. Again I will grow them again next year, as I have really enjoyed them . I believe they self seed, but I will give them a helping hand, anyway. They really fill the garden out at a time when their presence is much appreciated.

I have grown Sweet Williams again this year, and they are a very useful thing to grow, with their stabs of dark, jewel-like colour, and amazing scent. They are just coming into their own now, and are a very easy, cost effective way to introduce more colour into the garden.

Meanwhile, back in NGS land, we have already had the discussion! Are we going to do it again next year or not ? The Exotic Gardener is up for it, and would open again in an instant. I am not convinced.

I think it would be good to have at least a year off to relax and enjoy the garden without having to worry about how it is looking. We can make big changes and experiment with things.We have reached an impasse at the moment and I think we need lots more discussions over lots more cold beers, drunk from deck chairs in the sun ...