Thursday, 8 May 2014

A Trip to Melville Roses

English rose, Sir Edward Elgar
I have a confession to make… I don’t like rose gardens. Or let me qualify that – I didn’t like rose gardens. The roses are regularly spaced apart, and a good distance at that; all the plants are the same size; the foliage is the same and the flowers tend towards the top of the plant.

English rose, Portmeiron
When I first moved in to this house there were some roses along the driveway, somewhat neglected but blooming away. I was going to take them out, and then I had a revelation. Those plants had survived 5 years of neglect with no summer watering… therefore they were drought tolerant! And with the ever present threat of harsh water restrictions they met my major criteria for a plant in my new garden.

David Austin rose, Golden Celebration
This was the beginning of a journey into rose discovery, and for starters I wanted a rose garden that didn’t look like the rose gardens I don’t like. I wanted a rose garden that looked like a normal garden - plants jammed in and growing into one another, lots of foliage, and flowers all over. And this is where I discovered shrub roses. I read a David Austin book borrowed from my local library (it is at my house very regularly and here at the moment if you’re looking for it). In it he recommends close planting to create the effect of a large shrub – about 500 mm apart (around 20 inches). Close plant a rose? You can do that? Apparently so. And this from an expert.
Hybrid tea, Ian Thorpe
So why am I telling you all this in a post about a visit to a rose nursery. It’s because I bought more roses to put in and I’m looking to excuse myself. Just following David’s advice.

English rose, Wise Portia

David Austin’s Ambridge rose

A blooming camellia hedge


  1. Too many roses must surely be the best vice....if too many roses is even possible!

    Lovely lot of photos again and your autumn blooms are looking very nice. I personally think that the best rose blooms for us in Perth are those in autumn, sure there is not the same show as in spring but the quality more than makes up for the lack of quantity.

  2. Sue, everything you have said about your feelings toward a typical rose garden, and your own garden, I can put in quotes and sign my name :). I also moved into a house with a row of neglected HTs (most of them had to come out in my case, but two are still surviving and looking much better for the water and food I give them). I also love growing roses with companion plants mixed in. Thank you for all the pictures of the lovely Austin roses. About my GJ, I cannot peg mine because it is in a tight space :). I prune hard, it suckers a bit own root and I get maybe three flushes from it as opposed to four from a typical HT. I am sorry it has taken me forever to reply. I known that pegging GJ is considered an acceptable method of growing this particular rose, so if you have room, go ahead. Post pictures :)