I have just come out of a garden where a request had been made to reduce the perimeter hedge and let in more light; a mixture of conifer (Leylandii), cherry laurel, Berberis, Philadelphus and Forsythia. Well it was all pretty thick and high and had been left for a number of years. In a way I like these sort of jobs being left to decide the extent of removal which produces the greatest effect. A bit of ‘radical gardening’! It does leave a potential for further work. That space created may be filled with more suitable plant material and allows the removal and treatment of the more pernicious perennial weeds before planting up other long term species. Those gardeners with an eye for design will know that it takes a bit of bravery to be radical and the need to look ahead and see what will make suitable replacements. It could lead to a complete change of tack from the replacement of shrubs with herbaceous or a design change with a new concept.
This idea took me back to my days as an apprentice in Bristol, working at various locations throughout the city.
“Ashton Court Mansion and Estate” provided my estate management experience but in those days there was no Balloon Fiesta and Kite Festival and the house was derelict. The estate was managed on a care and maintenance basis, home to an agricultural show and a golf course with extensively managed woodlands and certainly no deer herd. Close to the house was the sunken ‘Rose Garden’ which today is a feature of the house surrounds; now back to its original splendour with grants from the lottery fund.
In my day, construction of the rose garden was taking place and it gives me pleasure to say that I was one of those who rolled up their sleeves to help.
One of the features was climbing and rambling roses grown as swags (or cantenary) down the edges of paths and across lawns. They created either a dividing or a linking feature to various parts of the garden. Most were of chains fastened to the tops of 5 or 6 foot steel posts set in a line. The roses were planted at the base of the posts and then trained along the chains to great effect adding a magic and new dimension to the garden. The base of the swag did not touch the ground. Where they linked to other features you would get a swag meeting an arch or a pergola also clothed in climbing roses. The adjacent lime avenues, giant sequoia’s and house formed the backcloth.
We have our own producers of swag materials in this area one being Atkinson’s Fencing based at Castleford (01977550441). They exhibit regularly at the Harrogate Show. Their materials are of a more sympathetic wooden post and thick rope. You can buy the 8 foot posts and thick rope separately and make up your own rose supports knocking in the posts 10 to 12 feet apart and attaching the rope to the tops of the posts, allowing the rope to hang a foot or two above the ground between the posts. You can plant roses either at the base of the posts or at the spot at the lowest position of the rope to the ground. Training and tieing in the roses, as they grow can be a thorny exercise but the result can be very effective. Two methods can be used either cutting hard back each year to new buds and shoots or removing a third of the growth encouraging new growth from the base each year to get regular annual flowers.
Climbers and rambler varieties for swag planting are best repeat or continuous flowering. Try Rosa ‘Bantry Bay’ a large flowered, pink, repeat flowering rose with some scent together with Rosa ‘Cupid’ an HT climber with double, very fragrant flowers of orange, pink and yellow, flowering once during the summer.
Repeat flowering varieties like R. ‘Lawrence Johnson’ semi double yellow or ‘Lady Hillingam’, apricot buds opening to yellow and very fragrant with bronze foliage cannot be beaten. If you like white flowers try R. ‘Mountain Snow’ and the fastest growing specie rose, the rampant R. ‘Kiftsgate’.
Other combinations you can try are R. ‘Alberic Barbier’ and R. ‘Gardenia’. The Daily Telegraph’s ‘Rose of the Year’ 1998, R. ‘Penny Lane’, a pink combines well with R. ‘Champagne’ a well scented apricot yellow.
Always prepare the ground well with plenty of organic matter to give the new plants a good start. Size of garden is not a barrier to this type of planting and a long narrow garden takes well to that sort of treatment.
Yorkshire Landscape Gardens