The Rose Garden

Sunday, June 07, 2015 - by Timothy Fraser

The garden is composed of three small rooms – the White Garden, the Rose Garden and the Herb Garden.
The Rose Garden

The Rose Garden is the largest, with a pond in one corner and a narrow fern walk leading to the Herb Garden.

Old historic roses stud this garden room, with lavish underplanting of lavender, hardy geraniums, aquilegias, artemisias, campanulas, ferns and other complimentary companions. Old historic roses differ from modern Hybrid Tea Roses in many ways – most have superior scent; softer, more delicate tints or deeper, richer colouring. They all make larger shrubs than Hybrid Tea Roses, developing a more relaxed, informal shape and requiring less pruning than modern roses. Our Rose Garden contains every class of old rose. The most ancient of these, the Gallicas and the Albas, pre-dating the times of ancient Greece and Rome, flower for one month only. The Damask, Centrifolia and Moss roses also flower for one month only. But this is a small price to pay when taking in their rich, intoxicating scent.

To continue the display, rugosas, hybrid perpetuals and musk roses are grown in large numbers. 

The Rose Garden

Work is undertaken throughout the winter, starting with heavily mulching the roses with compost. This helps to keep them healthy and fairly disease-resistant. The planting display is observed throughout the summer and planting combinations can be adjusted and tweaked throughout the following winter months. Flowers which proved to be too large or bright or plants that do not fit in well will be removed.

In our Rose Garden, blooms are limited to purples, blues and pinks; yellows are allowed, but only around the pond area where they do not disturb the harmony of the rest of the garden, at least, when viewed from most angles.


Before the old roses start to flower in early June, the alliums start to offer a stunning display. Allium sphaerocephalum, with its rich, wine-purple flowers, lends an air of opulence to a corner of the rose garden.

allium sphaerocephalum 

allium sphaerocephalum

Allium christophii, with its amethystine-violet, glossy flowers, is now in bud and will flower in late June amid purple and pink roses. Allium schoenoprasum ‘Chives’ is flowering well in full sun in the Herb Garden. The white variety was added to the herb garden in the early spring this year, but has yet to flower.

 Close-up of allium sphaerocephalum

allium ursinum 

allium ursinum provides groundcover and produces an underlying smell of garlic


Many varieties of Geranium feature throughout the rooms of the garden, but in particular the Rose Garden. Geraniums make excellent underplanting against the rampant and often wayward growth of the old roses. Their small, delicate flowers highlight the contrast and make them an excellent companion. Their contribution to the floral display is prolonged with some starting to flower before the roses, and many will still be in flower long after the non-repeat roses have finished.

Geranium macrorrhizum is a formidable gem. While most geraniums die back to the ground in winter, this variety is almost evergreen and its scented leaves are an added bonus. A white form of Geranium macrorrhizum is grown under the hedge in the White Garden. There are three forms to be found in the Rose Garden.

Geranium macrorrhizum 

 g. ‘Ingwersens Variety’ Rose pink 


Aquilegia with the discus thrower in the distance 

 Aquilegia with the discus thrower in the distance



Aquilegia has grown in the garden for many years. They are all very old varieties, kindly given to me by the lady at the house at Ridgemount, Huddersfield. They seed freely and are very welcome here!

Foliage appears early in spring, helping to cover the bare soil around the roses, and they flower before and during the June display of the Gallica and Alba roses. There is a repeat of flowers later in the summer; they are dead-headed to encourage this, but a third of the dead heads are left to let seed. The wind will disperse the aquilegia seeds throughout the garden (and beyond). Where they have landed in the White Garden, the aquilegia are carefully dug up and re-planted in the Rose Garden – they never flower white here.

Aquilegias are a first class plant and I love them all very much – what more can I say?

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