Friday, 9 January 2015

Roses – Experiments and Colour Mistakes

Rosa `Sharifa Asma’ (above), I’ve read, is fairly shade-tolerant, but how much? I’ve planted a lemon scented verbena shrub (Aloysia citrodora Syn. Lippia triphylla) near the kitchen herb garden (I still love the idea of gathering 2 sprigs for a delicious pot of tea) and south of it, so it will receive only some morning sunshine from the east, I’ve planted Rosa `Sharifa Asma’. It’s a nice soft pink rose, opposite the silver and raspberry bed and near some oak-leaf hydrangeas. I hope it does well so I can enjoy flowers with `beautiful fragrance’ as the David Austin site tells us, `with fruity notes reminiscent of white grapes and mulberry’. And assess it too.
It was inevitable, I suppose: buy a rose or 2 `on spec’ and regret (but only a little) at leisure.
Roses `Souvenir de la Malmaison’ (above) and `Wisley’ (below), planted together, are too-matched in colour, both palest pink, but will reach different heights (1m and 1.5m respectively), so the effect will be odd, to say the least. Oops.  Nearby, to make it worse, there are tall stalks of icy vervain (true Valerian) and clumps of snowy, grey-leaved campion (Silene): all very pale. A taller rose, darker pink, behind, might save the picture. (The so-called White Garden in Sissinghirst Castle in Kent has lashings of green (maybe 80% - it’s crucial); maybe I just need to add lots of unflowering – at this time - shrubs behind my roses.)
Meanwhile flowers in one of the 2 semi-circular cut flower beds are swearing at each other. Which bloody bulb company gave me hot pink oriental lilies instead of the advertised sweet pale pink ones (they are just next to the central obelisk of soft purple and white clematis)? Let’s face it, like many bulbs, unless I pull out masses of soil, they’re probably there for good – and I don’t even like them. Dang! Perhaps I’ll just pick them each year for a friend, but it feels like a waste of space – and a disappointing area. Back to buying lilies, I think, and planting in pots to check the colour (orange instead of white one year – ouch!), then planting in the garden later when I’m satisfied. (Or buying them potted when in flower.)
In the other cut-flower bed, Christmas lilies and crisp white oriental lilies are opening at the foot of the obelisk with mainly violet clematis flowers and some soft mauve sweet peas (reminding me of my mother’s garden); enchanting (one ignores the few dying daffodil leaves at the very base of course...); purple heads of globe artichoke behind make it perfect. It’s much too hard to pick anything to spoil the picture, of course.

Jill Weatherhead is horticulturist, writer, garden designer and principal at Jill Weatherhead Garden Design who lives in the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne, and works throughout Victoria (

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