‘We’ve got 750 va­ri­eties of rose now!’

Garden News (UK) - - News - Borde Hill Gar­den Rose Cel­e­bra­tion, June 18-29, 2018. Visit www.bor­de­hill.co.uk; tel: 01444 450326.

The first plant I ever grew

In Cyprus, where I was born, we would sit, most evenings, in the cool of the out­doors sur­rounded by the amaz­ing scent of ten­tura or mas­tic tree

Pista­cia lentis­cus, which got me hooked on scented species. My par­ents loved to gar­den and grew vines and fruits. My fa­ther liked to prop­a­gate by grafting and showed me how to do it at a very young age.

The plant that changed my life

I’d have to say it was the whole plant col­lec­tion at Borde Hill. My hus­band An­drewjohn is great grand­son of Colonel Stephen­son Robert Clarke, the cre­ator of this mag­nif­i­cent gar­den. He cre­ated it from seeds gath­ered by the great plant hunters of the early 1900s. When An­drewjohn’s fa­ther passed away in 1987, we moved to take care of the gar­den and estate. Here be­gan the big­gest project of my life as we cre­ated new gar­den ar­eas to ex­tend the colour from spring through to au­tumn.

The plant that shaped the gar­dener I am to­day

The trees at Borde Hill are many and di­verse. Inheriting this col­lec­tion drove me to take my RHS qualifications to bet­ter my un­der­stand­ing of how to look af­ter them and keep their im­por­tant his­tor­i­cal sto­ries alive for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

My favourite plant in the world

Twenty-five years ago I came across a 1902 Coun­try Life ar­ti­cle on Mrs Stephen­son Clarke’s gar­den, which in­cluded the rose gar­den at Borde Hill. I was so in­spired I set about per­suad­ing the gar­den’s coun­cil to al­low me to re-es­tab­lish it. We planted 450 fra­grant va­ri­eties from David Austin. My ob­ses­sion grew, and we’ve ex­tended the col­lec­tion to 750 now!

The plant I’d love to grow more of

We planted a few echi­nacea two years ago, but they died. I’ve taken some ad­vice from a grower and we’ll try again by plant­ing them in a drier, more free-drain­ing po­si­tion.

The plant that’s made me work hard­est

The Hi­malayan blue poppy,

Me­conop­sis be­toni­ci­fo­lia, needs good drainage, but we’ve heavy clay here which dries out in the sum­mer. They’re a chal­lenge in the south – even a cou­ple of days of di­rect sun­shine can scorch them. We plant them in par­tial shade with some shelter and dig in home-made com­post and grit. Some years they do well, other years not so much, but they’re such a strik­ing plant I haven’t wanted to give up on them!

The plant I am in hu­man form

It would def­i­nitely be a high­ly­coloured, scented rose. I love ‘Fal­staff’ by David Austin, with its dark crimson-red colour.

Plant I would al­ways give as a gift

I’d al­ways give a rose! I love ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ for its beau­ti­ful, glow­ing pink flow­ers.

Cyprus-born Eleni has de­vel­oped a deep love of roses and or­na­men­tal trees

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