Tag Archives: Roses

Hampton Court 2014

On Tuesday Mum and I made our annual RHS Flower show trip and 2014 is a Hampton Court year. Pimms, pretty flowers and rain were the standout features, as usual.

The conceptual gardens were based around the seven deadly sins and my favourite was Wrath – Eruption of unhealed anger:

Conceptual garden - Wrath


I also liked Pride and Lust. I always find myself prefering the conceptual gardens that are more garden and less conceptual. I don’t doubt that they can be done well but the curse of the conceptual garden is that they often feature an unpalatable combination of heavy-handed teen-poetry symbolism with gimickry and a sprinkling of pretentious wankery.

There were also turf sculpures. I love the soft green shapes of turf sculpture (though I have to silence the irritatingly practical side of my brain that insists on piping up with ‘well, that’d be a bugger to mow.’)

Turf sculpture

Turf Sculpture by Tony Smith

The ‘Your Garden, Your Budget’ gardens had us saying ‘not my budget, love.’ My previous rant on the subject is here (Got ten grand to spare on a garden?) and applies to this show too as the gardens had similar budgets.

I wouldn’t expect to like the winner from this category if I had read a description; it is pale to the point of iciness, modern looking and clean-edged. However, the designer (Alexandra Froggatt) has succeeded in creating a beautifully calm atmosphere, cool and still.

Peaceful and pale

Peaceful and pale

My favourite show garden was the Jordan’s wildlife garden which only got a silver (one of my conclusions from this show is that  I have no idea how the judges score the gardens). I wanted to walk into it. The textures of wood and straw, the turf which was mostly ‘weeds’ and the colourful beds of flowers to attract the bees and butterflies were very appealing. None of my pics of it are very good though so this will have to do:

Jordan's Wildlife Garden

Jordan’s Wildlife Garden

On the plants front – my next garden will contain this combination seen on the David Austin stand:

Roses 'Summer Song' (orange) and 'LDBraithwaite' (red)

Roses ‘Summer Song’ (orange) and ‘LDBraithwaite’ (red)

This Digitalis featured in several of the gardens and we hunted it out in the floral tent to find out what it is:

Digitalis 'Illumination Pink'

Digitalis ‘Illumination Pink’

And now that I google it I find that it was Plant of the Year at RHS Chelsea. Which goes to show how much attention I’ve been paying to the gardening media over the last few months! Oops.


The Tudor Border

I can’t believe how long it is since I promised a post on the Tudor border. When I first planted it, as is so often the case, it looked very boring indeed. Small green blobs in an expanse of soil. So now it’s starting to come into itself I thought I’d share some pics.

The tudor border  in summer glory.

The tudor border in summer glory.

In this pic we can see Clary Sage which was used to treat eye complaints. Lady’s Mantle edges the bed in front of the picture and Heartsease to the right. The Heartsease is just going over now but it’s been glorious all Spring. The scraggly plants just behind the Lady’s Mantle are Soapwort, only recently transplanted and just getting the hang of things. A section at the front of the bed contains annuals; Pot Marigold, Field Poppy, Cornflower, Larkspur and Love-in-a-Mist.

I used bent lengths of dogwood to edge the bed, partly to discourage trampling kids when the lamb feeding was nearby but it’s quite attractive in a rustic sort of a way. You need to strip all the bark away from any part that’s going in the soil because otherwise you’ll have a nice new dogwood patch. Experience suggests willow is also good.

Rosa mundi

Rosa mundi

The houses of York and Lancaster were represented by a white and red rose respectively and fought over the crown of England in the War of the Roses. A striped rose that contained both colours could be a symbol of the peace brought by Henry Tudor (or at least that was the spin).

Tudor border

If you are bored you might play spot the weeds.

The other side is edged with Santolina AKA Cotton Lavender which is good for hayfever and other stuffy noses. I run some through my hand to sniff when I’m feeling bunged up and the scent does seem to help.

Other plants I’ve included that aren’t pictured/visible are; Mullein, Lemon Balm, Angelica, Rosemary, Sage, Hyssop and Thyme. I’ve left space for Ox-Eye Daisy which I’m growing on from seed and I want to squeeze in some Iris florentina somewhere too. A friend has hinted about some Mandrake, but it’s notoriously hard to propogate so we shall see.

Mostly I’ve managed to get hold of the ‘right’ sort of plant with the exception of Carnations. I’ve resorted to a variety called Hardy Border Mix which I grew from seed as I couldn’t even figure out which variety of Carnation would be ‘Tudor appropriate’, let alone get hold of any. Nevermind, it’s still a nice plant:


Not a Tudor Carnation


Pigs, yarn and roses.

Work is not being particularly interesting at the moment as it mostly consists of watering, spraying weeds, strimming, mowing and finishing off the last of the hedge-trimming. But to enliven things we have new pigs:

Young saddleback pigs


And a textile exhibition courtesy of the Mid-Essex Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers:

Yarn sample dyed with Mulberry

Samples of yarn dyed with leaves from our Mulberry tree.

Fleece and yarn

Fleece from our sheep and undyed yarns.

Natural dyes exhibit

The natural dyes exhibit

Exhibition of textiles.

I knit so this kind of thing is heaven for me!

It’s well worth a peek if you’re in the area and you’re at all interested in fibre, knitting, spinning, weaving etc. One of the ladies generously offered to spin me some of the Castlemilk Moorit fleece (a sheep breed – we have some at the tower) so that I can knit myself some fingerless gloves for winter. Yay!

And so as not to disappoint those hard-hearted souls who are indifferent to both pigs and yarn:

Rosa 'Sombreuil'

Rosa ‘Sombreuil’

Channelling Christo – Purple and Orange!

Today I decided that I would plant up a new bed in my own garden. Never mind the weeding, that’s boring. New plants are definitely the way to go when you’re feeling a bit down about the garden. So I shuffled off to Place for Plants, my favourite local nursery, dragging a friend along for the trip. I fully planned on hot summery colours – lots of daisies; rudbeckias, heleniums, maybe some red achilleas… lovely. I definitely wasn’t going to get a rose. Definitely.

And then I walked in and immediately saw Rosa ‘Tuscany Superb’ and fell in love. Then on the next table was Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ and I fell again. And I thought ‘they’ll never go together… will they?’ And they do. Here’s the haul:

Rosa 'Tuscany Superb' and Geum 'Totally Tangerine' with Agastache 'Tangerine Dream'

Rosa ‘Tuscany Superb’ and Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ with Agastache ‘Tangerine Dream’  and in the background Heuchera ‘Plum Pudding’

The Agastache ‘Tangerine Dream’ ties it all together as it has both the orange and purplish colours in it. Heuchera ‘Plum Pudding’ provides some weighty foliage in that gorgeous deep plum and, not shown in the pic are Fuchsia ‘Purple Mountain’ with purplish leaves and Echinacea ‘Sundowner’ which isn’t flowering yet. The colours are just wonderful together. Well, I think so anyway and it’s my garden so nur. And I think Christopher Lloyd would approve. Definitely. So if you want to disagree with a gardening titan like him, go ahead, dislike my colours. See if I care.

Newly planted flower bed

The ‘In honour of Christopher Lloyd’ bed

Hurrah! It makes me happy. Even though the rest of the garden is a shameful mess.

The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful – June 2012

The Good

Everything. Ok well, alot of things anyway. June is the height of the garden’s beauty in my opinion (which means I need to work on making the other months better) and having had such a damp Spring an awful lot of it is looking really rather nice, even if I do say so myself.

Layer Marney Tower flower border in June

The Tower Border in full swing.

Flower border in June

The planting in the new border is really going for it now.

Geraniums and roses in June

The romantic East Court Borders with white roses and pale pink geraniums.

The Bad

This month has been hectic. The week before the jubilee MsV was on holiday and I had a four day week, so we began the month a bit behind. Then we had the three day week of the Jubilee and then I was on holiday and on top of it all the weather’s been somewhat unco-operative at various points throughout the month. So all in all I’m feeling like I’m playing catch-up and the private areas of the garden really need some attention. We’ve begun to settle down now though and are ploughing through the jobs list.

The Beautiful

Centaurea cyanus 'Snowman'

Centaurea cyanus ‘Snowman’

These lovely white cornflowers are ones I grew from seed and then stuck in a gap in one of the borders. I hope they self seed!

Rose pruning – the climbing ones

Welcome to my rather belated follow-up about climbing roses. I hope you find it helpful!

All the things I said about tools, hygiene, angles of cut and roses being as tough as nails in my how-to about pruning shrub roses also apply here. You might also need a ladder – be careful! No leaning out from the ladder or placing it on wobbly ground. It’s naughty and I never do it myself. Honestly.

As before, the first step is to stand back and look at your rose. If it has an existing framework of main stems are there gaps in it? Are any existing bits of the framework dead or diseased or just really old and gnarly? Are there any conveniently placed strong new stems that could be tied in to fill these gaps and replace the dead bits? If there’s no framework yet, which are the strongest looking stems? Are these strong stems flexible and in good positions?

Climbing rose before pruning

Just a quick note on framework stems –  it is best to tie them in as close to horizontal as possible as this encourages more flowering. This means a roughly fan or ladder-shaped framework is best. Which stems are framework stems? Any you choose to use that way really – healthy strong looking ones for preference.

Now to start hacking! Cut all the stems back to two or three buds from the framework except any you’re saving for the framework. Careful – this is a prime moment for accidental amputation of the wrong bit and I don’t mean fingers (although that would be worse as they don’t grow back!) Remember to cut back to a bud pointing outwards and upwards if possible. Then completely remove any dead, diseased, crowded or badly placed bits.

If this is the climber’s first year you won’t be cutting much, if anything, off at all. Having said that, it is worth shortening your new framework stems by a few inches to a strong bud as this will encourage branching and expand your framework for next year.

Here’s a close up example of using a stem to create a fuller framework:

Climbing rose before pruning - close-up

You can see there’s a bit of a gap in the middle of this area and to the left there’s a strong and flexible stem which might be a good candidate to fill the gap, as long as it doesn’t break when I try to bring it round. This can be a problem if you want a stem to go in a very different direction to it’s original growth – if you have a stem that is already going in the right direction it’s better to use that.

Climbing rose after pruning - close-up

You can see I successfully filled the gap and cut back all other stems to a few buds.

So once you’ve chopped off everything that needs chopping tie in your new framework stems and replace old ties. For tying in I mostly use twine but have also discovered Soft-tie which consists of a wire core covered in rubber and I now use it for holding up the main support points of the heftier roses which can suffer badly from twine ties. A big old rose is quite a heavy beastie!

And that’s it. Ta da! Job done.

Climbing rose newly pruned

So that’s climbers. What about rambling roses? Ramblers generally have masses of small flowers, rather than single larger ones, and are often a lot more vigorous than a climber. They can be treated as a climber if there isn’t really the space to just let it go, otherwise just keep it within its allotted space and cut out anything dead or diseased and the occasional old stem.

Good luck with your roses and try not to fall off any ladders!

Rose Pruning – the shrubby ones

Well it’s that time of year again. I’ve sharpened the tools and donned the gloves that are never quite thick enough. I’m going to share a quick how-to on here as rose-pruning seems to be something people are a little scared of sometimes. I’ll follow up with a post on climbing roses in a week or two.

You need sharp and clean secateurs, loppers and a saw. Oh and gloves unless you enjoy laceration. I keep a bucket of made up Jeyes fluid in the shed and between areas of roses and at the end of the day I give the tools a swish and a clean to avoid spreading diseases about the place.

Rose before pruning

First things first – a healthy, happy rose is about the toughest thing in the garden. Even if you cut it off to an inch above ground level it will probably be fine, so don’t stress. Having said that … the idea of doing this with a hedgtrimmer… erm. Yes. Well, if you want your roses to look like a tangled mess, prone to disease and reduced flowering, go ahead. They’ll survive. Probably.

Any cuts you make should be as small as possible and angled so that water doesn’t sit on top of the cut. You’ll sometimes see ‘at 45 degrees to the stem’ as the required cut angle but frankly as long as water won’t sit you’re fine.

Rose stem showing pruning cut

First have a stand back and look at your rose. Is it wonky? Are there dead bits? Learn from my mistakes – really look at the branch you’re about to snip, follow it right to the end. How many times have I made a cut and groaned as the wrong bit of plant has fallen to the ground? Ho hum.

So now to the cutting! Remove any dead or diseased branches right to the base and then anything rubbing on other branches. I also remove anything crossing the centre of the bush as I want to keep the middle clear to create a nice open shape with plenty of airflow. You might also want to remove one or two of the older, gnarlier looking branches if it’s looking a bit crowded.

Then cut all the remaining branches back to a bud which faces away from the centre of the bush (or otherwise in the direction you want the rose to grow, like away from a path or wall) to about 1/3 of its original height. Note – I’m a little vicious and err on the side of a somewhat brutal interpretation of ‘1/3’. Seems to work fine…

Stand back and admire your work (and try not to swear about that bit that broke when you cut it and you had to cut back further than intended).

Rose after pruning

I am nowhere near this brutal with old english roses or miniature ones although the same general principles apply. For species roses and others which tend to spring in an arching fashion from the base I remove a few of the oldest stems but otherwise leave them to their own devices.

I’m sure most of my readers have no need of this post but thought it might help the occasional passer-by. Good luck with your rose surgery!