the rose garden in september

In this video, Sarah talks about her favourite rose varieties, and how she cares for the Rose Garden from one year to the next.

I'm standing in the Rose Garden and we've done an organic rose trial here, just not treating them with anything, no fungicide, no insecticide, no nothing, and really just seeing which roses will sink and which will swim. And, you know, not very surprisingly in a way, the old-fashioned ones like 'Charles de Mills' has just done unbelievably well with no sprays at all and really it's definitely the best. 'Gertrude Jekyll' is pretty good, 'Graham Thomas' is okay but it's got black spot, a bit of black spot, but not too bad.

So there are some that have done well, but the thing that we found in this little rose garden with the box balls is that it's really boring just to have roses and so I've underplanted them with two plants and I cannot recommend it more strongly. From February until sort of May - June we have polyanthus flowering. I've got Polyanthus 'Gold Lace', 'Francesca' which is the beautiful green one, and then a new one I found called 'Don-Keefe' which is the most amazing deep sort of velvet red, absolutely beautiful, and really honestly that flowered for three or four months this spring. So they do the spring season.

After the polyanthus come the penstemons and it's a brilliant succession, it works so well. So I've got the polyanthus for spring and then the penstemons for summer and autumn. The first one to flower is 'Just Jayne' which flowers from June and really genuinely until December. I picked the last bunch in December, searing the stems in boiling water to make them last.

And I've got other ones in here too, I've got this one called 'Garnet' and that, if you keep picking or deadheading it, goes on until November - December. I've got this one here which is a white form called 'White Bedder' and that hasn't done quite as well but it's still pretty good. And then this very beautiful, very odd one I really like, which is called 'Mother of Pearl' and it's very subtle actually, it sort of changes almost in different light and I rather love that. It's sort of white, almost white, in sunlight and it's quite purpley in another light. And then I've got this one which I pick an awful lot, which is 'Raven' and I've picked that so much that's the only stem left. But you can just see in here which ones have thrived and really, I mean, 'Just Jayne' is the total cream of the crop, it's absolutely extraordinary, it just doesn't stop flowering.

So what I have is I then cut those back in December and I mulch them and actually they overwintered last winter perfectly fine. And then, of course, up come the polyanthus really early in the year, January, February, and they are a shade tolerant plant, of course, related to the primrose, so they're quite happy in the dappled shade of the penstemons above them. And so it just seems to work utterly brilliantly and I couldn't recommend that combination, roses, polyanthus and penstemons, more strongly.

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