A garden re-fresh, Duchess of Cornwall, English Roses and Other Plants

All my la-di-da with photographs and tours around botanic gardens… I’m scrubbing the composted manure from beneath my fingernails this evening!

Some time in the garden for a family with a couple of Big Birthday celebrations coming up and a little TLC on their front-garden-front needed. I’ve already planted out the garden at the back of the house and will be taking pictures soon, as the new, mostly herbaceous occupants bed down. Meanwhile, I’ve been tidying up at the front (half brick paving, half lawn, beds around the edges)

Bigger changes are in the pipeline to put in place a wholly new design (take away the lawn, replace in part with angled parking space, increase the planted area with evergreen shrubs and roses, some low hedging, topiary, a wisteria for the front of the house) but not until the Autumn.

In the meantime, one long, thin bed (running adjacent to the lawn, from pavement to red front door), has been widened to give a more generous feel and 6 roses planted – Munstead Wood, Harlow Carr, Lady Emma Hamilton, Darcey Bussell..  plus two of my favourite roses, though not Austin creations, Duchess of Cornwall, whose colour shades from peach to pink depending on the heat.

The roses are in bud and ought to be in full flower by the Birthday Party weekend on the 24/25th May. I can move them (and add to them) in the Autumn. Planted between, Alchemilla mollis Thriller and a delightful bicolour verbena, Lanai Blue Twister. Existing wallflowers have yet to go over, though the narcissus have.

In the opposite bed, two spiral conifer topiary specimens (Cupressus Castlewellan Gold, 7′) have been added to give some much-needed height and will be central features in the new planting scheme.

Elsewhere, in the newly weed-free areas (see the vanquished ranunculus), between established maple, camellia and azalea (though not an acid soil), and big clumps of centaurea , Pulmonaria Blue Ensign and Hemerocallis Stella D’Oro, stunted Bergenia cordifolia and the odd bluebell, new plants include Hydrangea Vanille Fraise, Alstromeria Little Natalie, Geraneum pratense Splish Splash, Sarcoccoca ruscifolia and Dryopteris linearis polydactyla. Out came a Lavatera. Lawn mowed.

All the beds have been heavily mulched with composted manure, with additional fertiliser, and roses planted with mycorrhizal fungi supplement.

Much better. Broke the shaft of a shovel excavating the ‘hard-as-nails’ soil and ‘just-below-the-surface-brick-quarry’ though…. It was all new topsoil for the work at the back, a huge volume really, but made the planting an utter pleasure. Today, however…

The pictures are of the rose Duchess of Cornwall, whose colour does vary according to the weather! Could easily be mistaken for an English Rose, but in fact bred by Tantau and introduced in 2005. Strongly fragrant.

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