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December’s Winter Garden Update

29th November 2023

December in the garden!

The plums and apricot are finished and looking very smart again – fan trained against the walls. Our pruning and tying in tasks haven’t finished yet though – at the end of November and into December we start working on the roses in the gardens.

First batch to be tackled are the ramblers on the West and North walls of the garden – these are Rosa “Sanders White” a beautiful white rambling rose with small semi double flowers. It can grow to 25 ft so needs restraining every year as it makes its way up and over the walls! It is also quite spiky and our gauntlets are a necessity! Next on the North Wall is Rosa “Veilchenblau” an unusual purple/magenta colour which fades to a blue colour. It is not so vigorous and is virtually thornless so a respite after battling with Sanders White! If you are looking for a rose to grow on a North facing wall this may be your answer.

We then move onto the climbing rose in the Millenium Parterre – one of my personal favourites – Rosa “Compassion” which is a climbing hybrid tea. The flowers are a lovely apricot-tinted salmon pink and it flowers continuously throughout the summer and is in fact still blooming – it also has a lovely scent and works very well in flower arrangements being not too “pink”. This is pruned back to healthy shoots and tied into a fan shape along the South facing wall of the parterre.


However, all these tasks fade into insignificance as December continues and our major task commences – the roses on the chains. We have two lines of roses stretching along the Spring and Summer borders – Rosa “Excelsa”, Rosa “Dorothy Perkins” and Rosa “American Pillar”. These ramblers form garlands of roses, date from the early 1930s and they are certainly of their time. All three varieties were extremely fashionable and traditional in American Gardens particularly – but not everyone loved them – Vita Sackville West wrote about “her old enemies” Dorothy Perkins and American Pillar – she felt they were too bright and garish and “crude”. Needless to say – they are particularly spiky and extremely feisty as we remove them to prune and retrain onto the chains – it is as if they know that they are not everyone’s favourite!

Hopefully our use of them alongside taller herbaceous perennials help to avert the eye from the “blaze of colour – a long startling streak – I blink on seeing it” that Vita disliked so much!

Once the ramblers and climbers are finished with – we move onto the relatively simple tasks of pruning the bush and hybrid tea roses and then finish up with a feed and mulch and let them sleep until next year!

Although a painful, cold and sometimes dangerous task – noses, cheeks and heads have all been damaged during rose season – the results in the summer are worth it and we hope that you visit then to see the roses at their best!