Thursday, 14 June 2012

Rose dreaming…it’s June, it’s cold and the rose bushes are sticks. This is good: I can tinker with their positions and consider additions.
I have a `Sun and Sky’ bed with flowers of blue – caerulean, china, sky…pure blues – with primrose, lemon, sunny yellows and a touch of gold, used sparingly, but no white; masses of green however, to ground it all and not a splash of pink or red to spoil it.
It’s all held together by a double row of Euphorbia wulfenii which leads the eye to the focus: a 1 metre-high rusty treble clef statue. Behind each row is a narrow bed and the sunnier one has 5 roses including David Austin’s pale tea-coloured `Comtes de Champagne’ and apricot-cream `Crocus Rose’ – old world-looking roses with great perfume. I decided some time ago to add the famous sunny `Graham Thomas’ with its fresh Tea Rose fragrance to the mix; there is not enough room for these taller English Musk roses really, but I like to have mingling flowers of different shades. There’ll still be a definite order though; colour drives my garden and these roses fade from yellow to cream at each end of the straight row with deepest colour at the centre. Smoky-blue bearded iris add upright texture. A carefully thought-out but soft-looking arrangement.
As always I aim for flowers year-round too; it’s near the entrance of my country garden and they are almost expected; they add colour and soft informality which suits a spot so near the bush with its decided lack of neatness.
Today I found 2 bare-rooted `Graham Thomas’ for sale and they hopped nimbly into my car. (I find bare-rooted trees and roses almost the only option to maintain any sort of budget.) Over a long season `Graham Thomas’ will give us big fat flowers of rich butter fading to full cream (perhaps this should be named Julia Child), resulting in a wonderful two-toned effect which feels softer and less formal, beaming pure sunlight into the garden.

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