All hedges are cut and clippings deposited at the recycling unit. The bulk of soft fruit crops has also been picked and stored.
With these two key midsummer jobs completed, there’s more time to proceed at a leisurely pace, enjoy the garden and get on with the propagation of ornamental plants.
Roses are beginning to perform again after the recent rainfall. Chandos Beauty has shown tremendous resilience and is still heavy with blooms.
Although there are no formal rose beds in our garden, there is a presence woven into the mixed borders. This includes varieties that offer more than appearance and fragrance. They have history, evoking memories of friends, acquaintances and the past.
The ‘sweet briar’, or eglantine rose, Rosa rubiginosa Lady Penzance, has small, copper-pink and yellow flowers, with little or no fragrance. It also grows into shrubby proportions and its thorns take no prisoners.
However, rub a leaf between finger and thumb and breathe in the essence of ripe apples. Culpeper mentioned it in his 17th century herbal as a cure for alopecia.
The sweetheart rose, Cecile Brunner, is a little treasure that covers a vigorous plant with masses of small pink buds. When full-blown, the flowers are circa 4cm in diameter. This old rose offers flowers from June until autumn, and once seen it is never forgotten. When in California recently, it was blooming in a garden just outside San Francisco.
The apothecary’s and crusader roses represent pure history. They’ve proved themselves survivors and appear to thrive on challenges. Both spread via underground stems and the apothecary’s rose, rosa gallica, initially planted next to a hedge, now sends healthy flowering shoots up through the privet.
The crusader rose, an alba type, whose provenance was found in the deeds of a medieval property, competes for space with Euonymus Emerald ‘n’ Gold and Thuja Rheingold in this garden. The blush pink flowers have a flat face, prone to holding rainwater and rotting before hips form. It is clearly the vegetative propagation route that has assured its survival.
Although we’re surrounded by these old favourites, there’s always room to slot in something new.
Of course, the Alnwick Garden rose has a special spot, which it now shares with a David Autsin offering, Olivia Rose Austin.
We are often attracted to a plant by its overall appearance – a combination of colour and form perhaps. When this is joined by fragrance and fruits, as is often the case with roses, it goes on the wish list for autumn planting.
This is so of two I’ve revisited recently: a rugosa Roseraie de l’Hay and an English rose, Hyde Hall.