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France & England Garden Tour 2023

Three members from the Perth Heritage Rose Society Jan Eastman, Gay Dutton and Janet Rowe joined Deryn Thorpe on a Garden Tour of French and English Gardens from 19 June to 9 July 2023. Here are some rose highlights of our tour. Although the rose season had been early this year and the best of the blooms had finished there are a couple of gardens we would like to share with you.

The archway with Rosa mulliganii at Sissinghurst Castle


Bagatelle was our first garden.

It is a botanical, peaceful garden set in a quiet place in the countryside in Paris. In 1775 Marie Antoinette bet her brother-in-law the (the Count of Artois) that he could not turn this site into a park in 64 days. The garden Designers built it to the days in-vogue anglo-chinois taste. It is a tiny Chateau and its parklike pleasure garden features huge trees, an orangerie, grottoes, lakes and roses. The name Bagatelle means “something of little importance” however the cost to build it was significant. The rose garden benefited from the donation of a large number of plants from Jules Gravereaux, the creator of the rose garden in L’Hay. The rose garden holds a prestigious international competition for new roses every June, the month when the roses are in all their glory. There is now also another smaller but charming rose garden dedicated to landscape roses. Bagatelle has 10,000 roses and 1,200 different varieties. by Jan Eastman

Roseraie De L’Hay

I had been waiting to see this garden for many years and the day arrived BUT it was raining and I hoped amongst all hopes that it would stop but no it did not. I had not packed anything for cooler weather let alone rain but fortunately Deryn had a recyclable poncho that she lent me so once we arrived on went the poncho and out into the rain. Well I sure was a sight for sore eyes floating around the garden in the white poncho and every time which was often, when I needed to take a photo the broken wrist in the cast which I was trying to cover whilst holding the mobile came out then back under for protection. Each time the wind blew the hat would fly off but I wasn’t going to be put off so around the garden I went looking at the most amazing collection of old roses that I had never even seen or heard of before. Sadly we were a couple of weeks late and most had finished blooming but there were a number of very different hips. The garden opened in 1910 and is believed to be the first complete garden in which the rose is the only flowering plant. These gardens were originally made by Jules Gravereaux who was born in 1844 and he purchased a large holding of land in the town of L’Hay south of Paris, in 1892 where he gave free rein to his love of roses. He partnered with Edouard Andre, a renowned botanist and landscape gardener and together they designed a new type of rose garden aimed to educate visitors and showcase the beauty of these old roses. Today the garden has more than 3,500 varieties of roses. by Jan Eastman


Great Dixter

The original house known as Dixter, dating from the mid-15th century, was acquired by a businessman named Nathaniel Lloyd in 1909. He had a 16th-century house in a similar style moved from Kent and the two were combined with new work by Edwin Lutyens to create a much larger house for his family, which was rechristened Great Dixter. Lloyd and Lutyens began the garden at Great Dixter, but it was Lloyd's son Christopher Lloyd, a well-known garden writer and television personality, who made it famous. The garden is in the arts and crafts style (movement) and features topiary, a long border, an orchard, roses and a wild flower meadow. The plantings are profuse, yet structured, and feature many bold experiments of form, colour and combination. Fergus Garett currently manages the garden and worked closely with Lloyd until his death in 2006. As Head Gardener now, he has introduced several innovations into the planting scheme. Christopher Lloyd was a charismatic and controversial gardener. He spent his whole life, from childhood until his death aged 85, at work in the same garden and almost 50 years writing about it. by Janet Rowe


Alberic Barbier

Sissinghurst Castle

This the most magical garden for those who love old roses. The property had been an Elizabethan ruin until Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson purchased it in 1930 and they knew that they had a chance here to revitalise a once-great but deeply neglected place to take a ruin and make it flower. Harold set to designing the garden with many garden rooms but it was Vita who had the romance of choosing the plants including hundreds of old roses to set this garden apart from any other garden. The White Garden was the last of the gardens at Sissinghurst to receive its identity. Until 1949-50 it had been filled with roses but they had outgrown the space and had been transferred to what is now the Rose Garden. The White Garden features many plants all in white, green and grey tones and in the centre of the garden stands a feature of Rosa mulliganii. Four were trained up the almond trees at the corners of the central cross but the trees died in the 1970’s and were replaced with a lightweight arbour. This garden is spectacular when at the height of the flowering season. The Rose Garden is at the southern part of the Top Courtyard with a small gateway leading through to it. It is spectacular in full bloom. When Vita arrived at Sissinghurst in 1930 the place was very overgrown with a few plants remaining, but she did find one thing that excited her – a rich, dark, velvety rose with a magnificent scent. It was where the early garden had been but is now the Orchard. Vita believes the rose had been there since the sixteenth-century and therefore called the rose “Sissinghurst Castle”. She took cuttings and gave many away and it is believed to be a Gallica. by Jan Eastman

Kew Gardens

Founded in 1840, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew is one of the most extensive and important botanical gardens in the world, housing the "largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections" around the globe. We visited these gardens on a warm summer day entering the heart of Kew gardens by a beautiful long walkway, admiring the very striking borders of plantings from all around the world. The rose gardens are extensive and we spent a lot of time roaming around this section. Most of the roses had finished or past their prime but we still found it very interesting and most of the roses are named. by Janet Rowe

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