THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Jul23

Great Roses

Darcy Bussell

A client has asked us about some great roses we could plant in their garden. We have spoken about our portfolio of roses before – what we have discovered is the choice is huge, and seems to be expanding all the time.

So how do you find a great rose?

1) Scent – fragrance is so important, it really is. You only realise how much the nose craves it when you walk past a bed of a rose like ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ and get knocked over by the smell.

2) Disease resistance – we hate spraying roses, and anyone who has doused their blooms and drowned a bee at the same time will know that horrible feeling too of what you’ve just done. Try not to do it by growing your plants well – plenty of air circulation and in clay soil.

We also hate buying roses from nurseries that spray them (roses always suffer in pots at this time of year (late July/August) so it is best to buy yours either from a nursery that grows them in larger pots that give more space to the roots or get them bare-root later in the year.

3) Bloom – colour, size, how often it flowers. This is most likely the way people pick a rose. When you have such an iconic (and romantic) flower, this would be a good place to start.

In our portfolio, we have a special soft spot for the dark reds like Falstaff Rose. Sublime whites go into darker spots in the garden, to illuminate them with their brilliance. We don’t much care for the time spent on breeding a blue rose…

Munstead Wood, Crocus, Lady Salisbury, Glamis Castle, A Shropshire Lad, Generous Gardener, Jubilee Celebration all make it onto our list.

If you want roses for the cutting garden, Sarah Raven recommends Felicia, Tuscany and Paul’s Himalayan Musk.

Although great roses can be judged using the 3 ways above, you might find nostalgia has the biggest part to play in how you choose a rose – you may have a memory of your nan’s garden, or a place you stayed on holiday, where a particular rose seemed to encapsulate the mood of the time for you.

These are special occurrences and should not be dismissed as a guide to what you grow. They are, after all, the beginnings of your current relationship with plants.

Enjoy your roses, enjoy discovering what great roses are for you!

For more reading about roses, try these books too…

(And this one by Graham Stuart Thomas – an important book on your shelves if you want to know about great roses!)

Apr28

Phillyrea From 1682

Worlidge Phillyrea

Phillyrea is one of my favourite plants for topiary. I have been using it for quite a few years as a specimen shrub, mostly due to the fact it clips well and has a tough habit – all good characteristics for a topiary plant. It also has a  reputation for being an excellent nectar source for bees… Read more about Phillyrea here. Mentioning this to Malcolm Thicke, a market garden historian and writer, he sent me a some photos of topiary and phillyrea mentioned by John Worlidge in Systema Horticulturae from 1682…. incredible! He also mentioned to me that in …

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Apr27

Kites And Strings Podcast – Topiary In The Garden

kites and strings podcast

Kites and Strings is a podcast about creativity, hosted by US-based Stephen Ploum and Catherine Chinnock. Back in March they asked me to come onto their podcast and talk about topiary, my past writing plays, the stand-up I did and how creativity can fit into your life. The Kites and Strings podcast was great fun and Stephen and Catherine are fantastic hosts. Listening back today I am surprised by some of the ideas I talked about (somehow I even started to describe a future where I run a ‘School of Creativity’ by the sea…. where did that come from?!) but it …

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Apr27

Robinia – Pruning A Beautiful Tree For Small Gardens

topiary Robinia

Robinia is often forgotten – by me, actually! – when thinking of plants for topiary. But when I work on it I do love it, brittle and soft as the wood is if you climb into it. But that danger of snapping a branch with a heavy step and falling out of the tree aside, I love it for the dappled light it allows into the garden space. Robinia Near The Sea Below is a Robinia I have gently clipped over the last few years, down near Leigh-on-Sea in Essex. The tree was large when I arrived, although it is …

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