Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Rose is a Rose

Rosa 'Ballerina'

It has been an amazing week here at Great Dixter. I have been planting a lot- pulling out and cutting back spring bedding and planting in the next round. I have also been working in the Exotic Garden working on a round of planting, diligently trying to place and plant everything just exactly right. Here plants are put in as they are meant to look- there is no waiting for something to grow into its place. I have to focus on un-learning everything I have learned about planting things straight up and down and away from the edge, etc. I am getting a real "edge-ucation." I finally put in a little Tagetes lemmonii in exactly the way I thought Fergus would like and he said to me, "Well, you don't want to over-do it." There is a fine line and I have a feeling it will take years to find it!  

Every month, Great Dixter runs a plant study day, headed by Kemal Mehdi, a long time horticulturist, teacher, and friend and neighbor of Christopher Lloyd. Afterhours, the staff, students and volunteers are offered the same garden walk. Kemal led us through the garden and through nine pages of plant names. It was amazing. His knowledge of the plants, history of the garden, anectdotal stories, and humor made the nearly five hours zoom by. He wonderfully brought us into his own journey of plant identification- since there are not perfect records of every plant in the garden, there is a complex process to uncover the truth about who's who. Still there are mysteries and it was terrific to hear Kemal's thought process and exploration. At the end he told us, "This list is just a map, it doesn't actually matter if you know all the names of the plants, what matters is what you can do with them."

Kemal went through many of the roses in the garden. Here are some of them (thought there are still many more) looking completely gorgeous and in full bloom! 

Rosa 'Florence Mary Morse' seen in the Long Border, but it is also found in the Exotic Garden.

Rosa 'Madge'
I think this is one of my favorite roses so far- it is a perfectly sized 3-4 foot shrub, with excellent foliage, buckets of flowers, and a terrific scent. This is seen in the Exotic Garden, also known as the old rose garden. The old rose garden still has at least seven different roses in it.

Rosa 'White Wings' in the Exotic Garden. In combination with 'Madge' and 'White Wings,' is Rosa 'Chanelle,' which hangs down from above with clusters of smooth apricot perfectly formed and perfumed blossoms. 

Rosa 'Chanelle'

Rosa 'Mrs. Oakley Fisher'
This one came as a cutting from Vita-Sackville West and is an early hybrid tea rose.

In the Orchard Garden there are a good many roses lining the central path. The dark pink is Rosa 'Cerise Bouquet.'

Together they are scrambling up and through the Prunus lusitanica 'Variegata.' In the early morning and late afternoon, the light catches the roses sprouting up out of the canopy.

Rosa 'Fantin Latour'

Rosa 'Kiftsgate' in the Kitchen Drive


  1. a very nice review of these roses, enjoyed it very much and your comments. Thanks

  2. It shows what a large garden Dixter is to have so many roses, even when Llyod was not that fond of them. I think I will always remember hearing him talk about his joy while listening to the rose roots rip coming out of the old rose garden!

  3. i want to smell and touch them all.