A combination of essence and form is all too important

Golden Wings.
Golden Wings.

As friend Ted and I worked and talked among the Alnwick Garden’s roses last week, it was the combination of essence and form that we discussed.

He led me to the modern shrub rose Golden Wings, invented in 1956, which has good disease resistance, large single flowers and delightful aroma.

Golden Wings.

Golden Wings.

My single-flowering choice was the Gallica rose Complicata, which, admittedly, is less aromatic but, oh, the beautiful simplicity of its form.

We both agreed that the hybrid tea Just Joey had a striking presence with its ruffled coppery orange petals, but in the neighbouring bed was arguably the most redolently fragrant of recent introductions, the pink Chandos Beauty.

There is a wild English rose in our garden that has vicious thorns and you would probably not give it a second glance.

It bears small, copper-coloured flowers with a yellow centre that only appear in June, but is most pungent.

Oddly enough, it’s not the blooms we’re interested in, but the foliage.

This is rosa rubiginosa Lady Penzance, alias the Sweetbriar of Eglantine, and the green leaves that are present from March to October carry a secret.

Rub one between finger and thumb, especially after a shower of rain, and it yields an odour of ripe apples.

It is propagated via hardwood stem cuttings planted vertically in the open garden during autumn.

Some of the sweet bouquet we experience in summer gardens emanates from a range of plant types.

Roses can make a strong contribution, but shrubby philadelphus (mock orange) and honeysuckle are there in support.

Nor should we underestimate the contribution of herbaceous perennials, herbs and annuals.

Santolina, lemon balm and rosemary are typical of scentful foliage plants that can fill the air with fragrance at a touch.

The perfume from sweet peas can be detected metres away when the environmental conditions are right, but who would think of adding broad beans to a list of aromatic plants?

This year we have two double rows of aquadulce in separate beds.

They’ve thrived on the rich land, and their growth has been stopped at eye-level.

The result is many ambrosial flowers filling the morning air as we check the vegetables.