Dog-Path Garden Roses
The Dog-Path Garden is now a shrub and tree-filled woodland, almost rose-free. But in its earlier days there were lots of open, sunny spaces into which (naturally) I planted roses. I just couldn't resist!
Honorine de Brabant
Looking over the water to the Dog-Path Garden in early summer you would see some fat shrub roses. Buff Beauty covered an old willow stump by the water's edge, and striped Honorine de Brabant sprawled nearby. Class Act filled up the middle of the border, fighting for space with some species daylilies. All three roses are no more.
Sir Benjamin Britten Roses
David Austin Beauties
Near the Copper Beech tree were some David Austin beauties, special favourites of mine : Sharifa Asma, Golden Celebration, and John Clare. They are still there, but are in desperate need of relocation - there's just not enough sun. Must remember to shift them out this winter.
More delicious English roses - Geoff Hamilton and the oddly coloured Benjamin Britten - lurked near the water's edge. But they just didn't last the distance. I suspect that neither was quite vigorous enough to survive in the ever-encroaching shade. One rose which is still growing strong is William Lobb, a moss rose, whose arching canes reach over the running water.
I love the contrast the soft rose flowers make with the spikes of the Phormiums (flaxes) and ornamental grasses. Like the rest of my garden, the Dog-Path Garden is full of these foliage plants. In fact, roses and flaxes are the prettiest combination - maybe a bit like Beauty and the Beast!
Romantic roses, a gentle running stream, and the stony texture of the actual Dog Path make a wonderful combination. Who cares if the odd rose cane flops into the water and gets wet? Naturally I'm prepared to stand in the water at pruning time, even if it's really cold on my feet.
William Lobb Moss Rose
Every now and then I rebuild the stone retaining wall by the Dog Path, making it stronger and a little higher. Then the roses, along with other plants, will get shifted around a little. They don't mind.
Room For More?
The grass edge of the Dog-Path Garden has now stopped expanding. In earlier days it had sunlight and fresh air in abundance, and was the perfect spot for roses. Or so I thought. I planted several re-homed roses, names unknown, and others who I recognised - white Margaret Merril, and some Rhapsody in Blue standards.
Rhapsody in Blue Rose and Buds
I love the music of George Gershwin, and I play the piano, so naturally I had to have some of these.
Gershwin in the Garden
Let's be clear about the word 'some'. I allowed myself to buy just three standard Rhapsody in Blues, to accompany the shrub rose I already had. I thought that was quite restrained for a country gardener! Gershwin wrote a lot more than four great pieces of music. Underneath the standard roses I planted Stachys and Santolina as an informal edging, and a scarily aggressive little Euphorbia which a friend gave me. Well - I thought she was my friend, but that's another story...
To be honest, the standards were never as healthy as I'd hoped, but a shrub version of Rhapsody in Blue in the same garden did doing much better. Why? I'm not really sure. Perhaps the wind rocked the root systems of the standards (though they were all staked). Or perhaps there was never enough sun.
Rhapsody in Blue Roses
None of the standard Rhapsodies survived, nor did the Rosemary shrubs I planted to keep them company. Ever increasing shade underneath the Copper Beech tree meant that the surviving roses (which included some rescued Golden Celebrations) had to move out. Deciduous Azaleas have now taken their place.
But out in the open, away from the tree, several early rose plantings have thrived - the yellow Freisia, and two healthy coloured Icebergs (one called 'Brilliant Pink', the other 'Burgundy').
A compulsive rose rescuer...
I just can't resist offering a good country home to any unwanted roses from friends' gardens. I'm a compulsive rose rescuer, and a great believer in recycling. Accordingly, the Dog-Path Garden keeps getting more and more roses. So one autumn a whole batch of supposed 'old English' roses arrived, and I cleared out a patch of species daylilies to make space for them. Well, they all turned into large flowering hybrid teas, but that's all part of the fun! But it ended up being the same old story - not nearly enough sun. Some were shifted out, while others just faded away. Oops.
Pink Hybrid Tea Roses
The reality is now clear to me. Roses need summer sunshine. The Dog-Path Garden does not provide this. So sorry!