Show­cas­ing roses in a dif­fer­ent way

Up­mar­ket coun­try es­tates have the lux­ury of space and of­fer plenty of scope to be cre­ative with roses, writes Alice Spenser-higgs

Business Day - Home Front - - HOMEFRONT -

THE eques­trian coun­try es­tate of Beaulieu, near Midrand, is be­com­ing known for its sump­tu­ous pri­vate rose gar­dens. Last year four of its gar­dens were in­cluded in the an­nual tour of top Gaut­eng rose gar­dens by rose grower Lud­wig Taschner. This year it was the turn of Mrs Vivi­enne Black whose in­spi­ra­tional gar­den was also vis­ited by rose breed­ers from Ger­many, France, Den­mark, Eng­land, and Ire­land who at­tended the World Rose Con­fer­ence (Rosafrica) last week.

Be­ing a pas­sion­ate gar­den, Black de­signed the gar­den her­self, with ad­vice from land­scaper friends and Taschner him­self. The re­sult is a gar­den with many dif­fer­ent as­pects, each show­cas­ing the rose in a dif­fer­ent way.

From the gate, a bricked drive way curves to­wards the house. On one side stan­dard “Ice­berg” roses emerge from banks of flow­er­ing La­van­dula stoechas with un­pruned Solanum shrubs form­ing a cloud of pur­ple be­hind. The com­bi­na­tion of mauve, deep pur­ple and white is breath­tak­ing.

Op­po­site that is a raised built bed con­tain­ing mauve-pink shrub roses, The Ridge School un­der­planted with the del­i­cate pink Granny Dear­est. Both are dis­ease re­sis­tant roses with arch­ing cas­cad­ing growth that fills the en­tire area; vir­tu­ally cre­at­ing a wall of colour and fra­grance.

The “wow” mo­ment oc­curs when turn­ing the cor­ner and the house and gar­den comes into view. Lead­ing up to the house, mas­sive bor­ders of roses, an­nu­als and peren­ni­als flank the drive way, pro­vid­ing layer upon layer of colour.

White Ice­berg stan­dards lead the way and pro­vide the height. They are sup­ple­mented by ‘Gar­den and Home’, a del­i­cate hon­ey­cream coloured Antico Mod­erno rose and lower grow­ing apri­cot ‘Deloitte and Touche’ ground­cover roses. In be­tween but­ter­fly blue scabiosa are planted in vast drifts, sup­ple­mented by self seeded for- get-me-not (Myoso­tis), pink gaura ‘Bal­le­rina’, the white fever few daisy, and at the base, a froth of white alyssum.

The use of roses in a mixed bor­der re­flects the world-wide trend. Talk­ing to English rose breeder Heather Horner, who to­gether with her late hus­band Colin, bred ex­cel­lent gar­den roses like ‘Lyn­dal Dawn’, ‘Starry Eyed’ and ‘Play­mate, it seems as if English gar­den­ers have moved away from ded­i­cated rose beds.

“Gar­den­ers want

colour throughout the year and be­cause our roses only flower in sum­mer, plant­ing spring and au­tumn flow­er­ing an­nu­als or peren­ni­als, as well as ev­er­greens in win­ter along­side the roses, keeps the gar­den alive,’ said Horner.

Scabiosa ‘But­ter­fly Blue’, which is a cul­ti­var of in­dige­nous Scabiosa colum­baria, has be­come a pop­u­lar com­pan­ion plant for roses. It is a clump form­ing peren­nial that is not in­va­sive and does not in­ter­fere with the growth of the roses.

An­other cul­ti­var that per­forms equally well is Scabiosa colum­baria ‘Pink Mist which has lobed grey-green leaves and pink flow­ers (deeper in cooler weather) with paler cen­tres.

These long bloom­ing peren­ni­als flower from spring to au­tumn and at­tract but­ter­flies. The lightly fra­grant flow­ers last well in the vase. They do best planted in full sun but can take par­tial shade al­though they may not flower as well.

Like roses, they do best in well drained, light fer­tile soil and shouldn’t be over wa­tered in win­ter. They can be used as edg­ing or in large groups in bor­ders or rock gar­dens Di­vide and re­plant in fresh soil ev­ery three years.

Other com­pan­ion plants used with roses to great ef­fect in Black’s gar­den are the sil­very lamb’s ear (Stachys), Fox­gloves, arum lilies, evening primrose, mini-aga­pan­thus, stat­ice, cos­mos, irises, and del­phini­ums.

An­other de­sign strat­egy that works well is the use of wa­ter fea­tures, mainly foun­tains, as a fo­cal point within a ded­i­cated rose bed, such as in her small for­mal rose gar­den, or to tie parts of the gar­den to­gether.

From the house a walk­way framed by arches for climb­ing roses, cul­mi­nates in a large foun­tain. The foun­tain also forms the cen­tral point for the newly planted rose gar­den and links it to more roses that act as Black’s cut­ting gar­den.

In two year’s time, the en­tire area will just be a sea of roses.

‘Ice­berg’ roses how­ever, have the last word. From the house lead­ing down to a gar­den pavilion, al­ter­nat­ing white and pink ‘Ice­berg’ roses that have grown to gi­gan­tic pro­por­tions, line the path­way. Clipped Du­ranta ‘Sheena’s Gold’ acts as a low grow­ing hedge at their feet. These ‘Ice­bergs’ were among the first roses planted in the gar­den and ig­nited Black’s pas­sion for roses, a com­mon ex­pe­ri­ence of gar­den­ers who find that one rose leads to an­other and yet an­other!

The var­i­ous ‘Granny’ roses com­bine well in this con­tainer that acts as a full stop at the end of a rose bed, left. Mixed bor­der of stan­dard ‘Ice­berg’, ‘Gar­den and Home’ and ‘Deloitte and Touche’ roses in­ter-planted with Scabiosa ‘But­ter­fly Blue’ and alyssum, be­low.

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