The rose garden: progress and planting

This time last year we had our groundworkers on site, constructing a new car park. A considerable amount of soil had to be dug out, to level the area. This was partly tipped down a bank to the side of the drive (and will become a new exotic garden later this spring) and partly spread on the south side of the car park, an area destined for the rose garden.

In France it is very easy to buy annual flower seed mixes in large quantities. All garden centres and agricultural suppliers seem to stock them. As spring came I bought a number of boxes of different mixes, added some phacelia tanacetifolia taken over from the UK, and other packets of seeds I’d collected (mainly free gifts from magazines), mixed them all together in a large trug, and then sowed them across both areas of bare soil. My intention was threefold: to keep the weeds and grass under some control, to give us (and pollinators) a summer of colourful flowers, and to provide us with plenty of plant material to compost at the end of the season.

The area south of the car park had a setback that I won’t go into here, just as everything was germinating. Fortunately later-germinating flowers survived and both areas went from strength to strength throughout the summer and into the autumn and were absolutely magnificent. Of course I didn’t take nearly enough photographs but here is a flavour of what we were able to enjoy from both areas.

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Cosmos loved the heat. Zinnias grew tall.

Not only was there a gorgeous mix of flowers to enjoy but they also provided lots of cut flower material for the house whenever we were there.

And then the frosts came in November and the show immediately stopped. At that point we cleared everything to an enormous pile in the yard, ready to be mixed with leaves and grass cuttings on the compost heaps, and the time had arrived to prepare for later planting. Several huge trailer loads of horse manure were spread over the (by now) bare soil and a surrounding hedge of hornbeam (between the rose garden and the car park) and yew (around the southern perimeter) were planted.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the rationale and the planning: The answer lies in the soil? A new rose garden

So now I’m going to share a few photos taken during the planting process, together with the list of roses that have been planted.

You can see the tiny hedging plants around the perimeter, and the horse manure being spread leaving grass paths and a central grass circle.

Meanwhile I had my plan and my spreadsheets laid out in the kitchen from where operations were directed. Each rose was allocated to a bed in an attempt to ensure an even spread of colours and types. Beyond that placing was all a bit random … I hope we don’t live to regret that …

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It was interesting to see the different packaging methods from the different suppliers.

All seemed to be in good condition, some very good. Unpacking took some time as you can imagine.

In our last house, the Surrey family house, we had three upright fence posts in front of our front door, each with a David Austin climbing rose. We liked this feature so decided to use the idea in the French garden, except of course the scale is different and we have twelve uprights each with a different climbing rose.

The weather wasn’t particularly enjoyable (quite cold and wet at times), but we all wrapped up warmly and pressed on. After an intensive few days all roses were planted. Our trusty helper has been keeping the soil clean with regular hoeing and is shortly to cover all the planted areas with a thick layer of wood chip mulch. I shall be going out this coming week and one of the first things I will do is closely inspect for the signs of new shoots. The weather has been warm and sunny recently (usually a good 5 degrees warmer than the UK) and I am hoping to see plenty of signs of life.

All the roses that we selected are fragrant, some exceptionally so. Here’s the list (87 plants in total)

The planting list

Alain Souchon
Alba Maxima
Alba Meillandecor Meiflopan
Alibaba
Amber Queen
Andre le Notre
Baie des Anges
Barbra Streisand
Baron Girod de l’Ain
Bolchoi
Boule de Neige
Bouquet d’Or
Camille Pissarro
Celsiana
Chartreuse de Parme
Claire Austin (bush)
Claire Austin (climber)
Comte de Chambord
Crown Princess Margareta
De La Maitre d’Ecole
Desdemona
Edith Piaf
Emily Bronte
Empereur du Maroc
Etoile de Hollande Bush
Evelyn May
Fantin-Latour
Ferdinand Pichard
Francois Mauriac
Fred Loads
Gertrude Jekyll
Golden Celebration  (accidentally x 2)
Great Maiden’s Blush (Cuisse de Nymphe)
Grosvenor House
Hansa
Henry Kelsey
Jacqueline du Pre
Jubilee Celebration
Kazanlik
La France
La Reine Victoria
Lady Alice Stanley
Lady Emma Hamilton
Lady of Shalott
Laneii
Leah Tutu
Louise Odier
Michelangelo
Mill on the Floss
Mme A Meilland ‘Peace’
Moonstone Wekcryland
Mrs Oakley Fisher
Munsted Wood (accidentally x 2)
Nuits de Young
Papa Meilland
Papworth’s Pride
Pearl Drift
Perennial Blue
Princess Anne
Prosperity
Reine des Violettes
Rhapsody in Blue
Roald Dahl
Roundelay Climber
Ruby Ruby Weksactrumi
Scepter’d Isle
Sheila’s Perfume
Sombreuil
Super Trouper
Sweet Juliet
Tall Story
Teasing Georgia
Terracotta Simchoca
The Alnwick Rose
The Ancient Mariner
The Generous Gardener
The Lady Gardener
Verschuren Rose (deliberately x 4, one in each bed). I first bought this rose with unusually variegated leaves from East Lambrook Manor about 25 years ago but left it behind in our Surrey house. I was able to track it down from Style Roses
Westerland
Wollerton Old Hall
Young Lycidas
Zepherine Drouhin (always love to have at least one in every garden)

Keen eyes will spot that one of my all time favourites, Souvenir du Docteur Jamain, is missing from the list. The rose garden will be in full sun, which Dr Jamain can’t take, but I have an area on the north side of the barn earmarked for (at least!) one when we are able to plant that area. Madame Alfred Carriere is another favourite that will definitely feature at some point but is too vigorous to be used as a pillar climber.

We also have a number of rosa rugosa planted in the mixed edible/ornamental hedge along the front and (front) east side of the garden. And we will definitely plant more roses in mixed borders and over arches as the garden further develops.

For the moment our new roses are hopefully finding their feet and sending down strong roots. It is really rather exciting!