Chal­lenge They rose to the

Lancashire Life - - GARDENS TO VISIT - PHO­TOG­RA­PHY: Linda Viney

It’s of­fi­cially Eng­land’s favourite flower and if you want to see some beau­ti­ful ex­am­ples, follow LINDA VINEY to Mawdes­ley

Storm Hec­tor swept through Bob and Mar­garet Mercer’s garden in Mawdes­ley the day be­fore I ar­rived to take pho­to­graphs. ‘I was on ten­ter­hooks about what dam­age would have been done,’ Mar­garet told me. ‘Al­though some plants were knocked down, thank­fully, the roses re­cov­ered quickly and, apart from los­ing some petals, all seems well.’

Al­though I knew roses were a ma­jor fea­ture and their fra­grance filled the air, I could see the garden had much more to of­fer,

all set against a back­drop of Har­rock Hill and a cy­press tree ma­jes­ti­cally over­look­ing the area.

Bob, a farmer and agri­cul­tural en­gi­neer, was never into gar­den­ing but his favourite flower has al­ways been the rose. Mar­garet had al­ways wanted a beau­ti­ful garden and mov­ing here was a good way of en­cour­ag­ing now re­tired Bob to get in­volved.

The rose col­lec­tion of at least 80 va­ri­eties from English shrub and climbers, mostly from David Austin, are found all round the garden with a cen­tral dis­play sup­ported in a wrought iron gazebo made by Bob. Roses are well known to be tol­er­ant, sur­viv­ing in ex­treme con­di­tions.

When you think of an English cot­tage garden it’s the first flower that comes to mind – no won­der it was voted as the favourite plant in the BBC Gar­den­ers’ World sur­vey.

When Mar­garet and Bob moved here ten years ago they de­mol­ished a breeze block garage and it wasn’t long be­fore they dis­cov­ered the ex­ist­ing pa­tio and lawn were on con­crete – 105 tons of it.

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