Yesterday Amy and I went to the wonderful rose garden designed by Graham Stuart Thomas at Mottisfont Abbey ... at their peak for the next couple of weeks: beautiful, scented, a magical place in the Test Valley, peaceful and timeless. Sorry for all the clichés ... they fit with the planting - all paeonies, pinks and white foxgloves mingled with shrub roses against the ancient brick walls.
Lunch was a Mottisfont tradition: egg and watercress sandwiches, with ginger beer. Mmm
Without trying, I found the rose we will plant as a hedge beneath our pergola of climbing roses .. Mrs Anthony Waterer, a serious improvement on the plain pink rugosa rose I was planning to use until yesterday morning. This rose was developed in 1898 by Waterers, the now-defunct world-famous nursery a couple of villages from here, R rugosa x Général Jacqueminot, described by Peter Beales as semi-double, shapely, rich deep crimson flowers, freely produced on a vigorous, broad, thorny bush with dark green foliage, well scented. What more could you ask? So bright it almost hurts your eyes, and the colour doesn't fade to nothing as the flowers go over. The photograph does it no justice.
Oh, and I came home with a pretty French rose, de Meaux, one of those ancient plants marked as pre-1789 because their origins were lost during the upheavals of the revolution. It seems to me that it will be both lovely and trouble-free for people to have gone to the trouble of preserving it through those terrible times. It has a mass of tiny pink flowers, and is scented.
Here is one of Mottisfont's three ancient sweet chestnuts, the bark alone makes me want to plant one. And you may just spot a fat old trout swimming against the current ...
A date for your diary - My thanks to Rose for notice of an event to be held at Southwark Cathedral on 13th. February: choral evensong to commemorate the marriage of James I of Scotl...
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