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
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.
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.