A rose by any other name

Karen Neville


Rose Awareness Week celebrates the beauty and variety of the world’s most popular flower. This is the ideal time to enjoy their glory with beautiful blooms and sensuous scents in gardens near you

Shakespeare said “of all the flowers, me thinks a rose is best” and who can argue with the great English playwright. Roses are rooted in many aspects of life, from literature to history, but did you know:

• The oldest living rose is 1,000 years old, and lives on the wall of the Cathedral of Hildesheim in Germany.
• All varieties of rose are edible. Rose petals are often added to jellies and used as a flavouring in Chinese and Indian cuisine. Teas or cocktails are often infused with rose hips, a berry shaped fruit grown from roses packed with Vitamin C.
• There are around 150 species of roses across the world, with thousands of hybrids too! Cherries, apples, peaches, plums, pears, apricots and almonds are all relatives of the rose family.
• The most expensive rose is the Juliet Rose. It took 15 years and cost £2.3 million. Its colour resembles an apricot and it was first displayed in 2006 at Chelsea Flower Show.

One of summer’s great pleasures is to stroll through a rose garden, breathe in the sweet fragrance and gaze at the pastel colours of the blooms. Whether in a formal rose garden or throughout the grounds, these ones are well worth a visit.


More than 100 rose varieties bloom each summer at Hinton Ampner, Alresford, and the borders are designed so the most fragrant roses are planted close to the path you walk along. Take the rose trail that guides you to the different varieties planted by a former owner, and Hinton’s garden team.

Step into the garden at Mottisfont and be met with unsurpassed fragrance and colour from over 500 varieties of world-famous roses blooming in the walled garden.


The rose garden at Nymans is teaming with delicate blooms and densely-petalled clusters. Make the most of the long summer evenings and experience the roses in a whole new light every Friday in June and July with summer lates at Nymans.

Take in the glorious views across the rolling Surrey Hills from Polesden Lacey near Dorking, framed by Edwardian rambling roses, shrub roses adorning the borders and climbing roses decorating the pergolas.

Started in 2007, the Bowes-Lyon Rose Garden at RHS Wisley aims to inspire visitors with roses planted alongside companion plants.

The two summer beds at the Six Quarters at Gilbert White’s House, Selborne, are home to various species of old roses, all of which look their best this month, nestled among lavender, geraniums, columbines and foxgloves.

Planted with over 1,000 Old English rose bushes and framed by long, low, precisely clipped box hedges, the Rose Garden at Loseley Park, Guildford, is one of the finest examples in the country. Many visit just for the colour and scent of the roses, evoking summer at its best.


The three-day flower show this month, 23rd to 25th, at Blenheim Palace is the ideal time to enjoy the roses at their best in the sumptuous surroundings of the stately splendour in Woodstock. Take a stroll down Floral Street, tour the Grand Floral Pavilion, join the newly-created Insect Trail and generally wallow in all that showcases the best of British gardening.

The Mary Rose Garden at Waterperry Gardens near Wheatley is home to hybrid teas, floribunda, climbers and ground cover roses – a rose lover’s paradise. Visitors in June will find among the many varieties grown there are some which only flower once a year, amid many repeat flowerers.

As part of the National Garden Scheme, The Old Rectory, Farnborough, near Wantage OX12 8NX will be open on June 28th and August 9th. Visitors can admire the collection of old roses and abundantly planted borders while enjoying beautiful views and rare plants and wild flowers.


There are around 2,000 roses throughout the garden at Abbey House Manor Gardens, Malmesbury, with climbers wandering their way through foxgloves and other flowers. Once part of a Benedictine Monastery, the gardens only open on selected dates during the summer months.


The rose arbor provides seating in an avenue of white and mauve alliums and white camtasisa at Rockwood Garden, Newbury where you can enjoy a tour with tea lead by the owners.

The 12 acre garden at Englefield House, Theale, descends from the hill above the historic house through woodland featuring mature native trees. Stone balustrades enclose the lower terrace with lawns, roses and mixed borders.

Greys Court near Henley is full of wonderful sights and scents as the roses come into bloom throughout June. The rose garden traces the history of the rose from the early damask varieties to the modern hybrid perennials.

Through June, August and September, the Rose Garden at Basildon Park is planted with old roses, replicating Lady Iliffe’s original design. Look out for two of the gardeners’ favourite roses: Rosa mundi and Rosa ‘Compte de Chambord’, which is also known as ‘Madame Boll’ or ‘Madame Knorr’.

Take in the scent of the contemporary rose garden at Savill Garden, Windsor, with its viewing platform overlooking the roses and the garden beyond and wander beside borders planted with old fashioned scented French musk roses.

Celebrate all things floral at the Royal Windsor Flower Show on Saturday, 10th June. Led by the show’s Honorary President, Alan Titchmarsh who will welcome a host of special guests and performances, with plant growers, garden designers, artisan producers and top-notch chefs on hand to demonstrate and share their knowledge.


Cliveden’s rose garden features over 900 repeat flowering roses in shades of red, orange and yellow. Reinstated in 2014 based on a 1950s design by Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe, you can enjoy them in bloom from late May until September.

Visitors to Waddesdon this month will be able to enjoy the sweet scent of the rose garden as the colourful blooms fill the stately setting. The beds in the Aviary and Parterre are awash with colour influenced by Victorian-inspired planting.

In addition to the stately splendour of Cliveden and Waddesdon, several gardens are opening as part of the National Garden Scheme this month. Overstroud Cottage Garden in The Dell, Frith Hill, Great Missenden, HP16 9QE, is opening its gates on Sunday, 4th June for visitors to admire the rambling roses and their ‘lookalike’ peonies among others. With a plant stall too you may even be able to pick up some specimens for your garden!

Maidenhead Open Gardens will feature about 20 gardens on June 24th and 25th with gardens large and small on display showcasing their blooms. Meet the keen gardeners and pick up some tips as you discover more about the hidden gems in the area. Earlier in the month, on 11th, visit the garden at St Timothee, Darlings Lane, Pinkneys Green, SL6 6PA and take in the sights and scents of the two-acre garden at this 1930s house where, in addition to the rose terrace, a box parterrre, ornamental grasses and wildlife pond add to the delight.

May flowers are springing up

Round & About


At last spring is in the air and summer is coming. We should be mindful of climate issues but not let it put us off gardening forever

May and June are often thought of as a difficult time as often there is a lot of foliage and not many flowers. I am often asked how do I fill this gap…?

Go Shopping!

I think we all deserve a treat after the horrendous weather extremes we have been dealt. We can’t choose plants will survive every eventuality we can only do our best. If May is a time when your garden is very green there is nothing like a trip to the garden centre. If the plants are hardened off and used to the outdoors they will be on sale outdoors. If they are in flower when you buy them you would assume they will flower at the same time next year. Don’t be tempted to buy plants sold undercover and put them straight into your garden, they need to be acclimatised to the outside first. You will need to do a bit of research so it’s not totally impulsive!

Plant Choices

Most flowering plants can be describe as five minute wonders or those that reward us for a longer period of time. Irises and Aquilegias I would not be without along with many alpines but they don’t last long. Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’ is a perennial wallflower that flowers for the whole of the summer. It tends to only live for a few years but not expensive to replace. Hardy Fushsias and Roses are also reliable bloomers all summer long as is Geranium ‘Rozanne’. It’s important to know the proper name of the plant and ‘what it does’. It is also essential to know your soil pH and if it likes sun, shade, sandy soil, wet soil etc etc. Luckily these days there are very educational label. Bedding plants are available now but be aware there can still be frosts in May!

Jobs to do now

It’s very important to weed and mulch but not excessively, a lot of ‘weeds’ are beneficial to wildlife and don’t discount the beauty of flowers. Consider leaving red and white dead nettle and dandelions as well as nettles in some areas of your garden. Planting is great at this time of the year but remember how important it is to learn how to water properly. So many plants are lost in the first season due to lack of water.

The Chelsea chop

This is something you can do at the end of May to encourage more flowers on some perennials like Helianthis, Helenium, Lynchis and many others. It can also encourage them to become sturdier and self supporting.

Looking forward

We should probably be buying more plants in season and enjoying them for as long as we can. Learn about your soil and how to improve it. Courses and workshops can create confidence and are great fun. Learn how different plants can contribute to your outdoor space.

CGS Courses

Please ask for details as I am running pruning courses throughout spring and autumn. Each plant has a different requirement and learning about pruning techniques is addictive! I can also come and teach you in your own garden.

Website www.cathiesgardeningschool.co.uk

Good year for the rosés

Round & About


Our wine columnist Giles Luckett invites us to enjoy all things pink

Hello. You’ll have to excuse the punning on that famous Elvis Costello song in the headline… But given Elvis’s predilection for all things boozy back then, I’m sure wine played a part in creating his 1981 album. Surely he’d had to have had a few to think doing a country and western album was a good idea for a follow up to his Motown-inspired Get Happy!

Anyway, rosé wines have certainly been on my mind of late. The warmth of the early spring sunshine always gives me a craving for rosé, and a recent trawl past many a tasting table has introduced me to some glorious new wines, ones that will ensure that 2023 will be a good year for the rosés.

First up, the Moulin de Pontfract Rosé 2021 (Laithwaites £8.99). This is a Provençal-style rosé from the neighbouring department of Var. If it was from Provence, it would probably come in a bottle that Jean Paul Gautier rejected for being outrageous and have a similarly outlandish price tag. This is a lovely, gentle rosé that offers a softly scented nose of red berries and blossom, while the palate is suffused with notes of strawberries, cranberries, and a hint of citrus on finish – just the thing for a spring lunch aperitif.

Next, a wine from Chile. Chilean wines offer an amazing combination of value and quality, and while the reds often steal the show, the rosés can be sublime. Take the Phantom River Sauvignon Blanc Rosé (Sainsbury’s £5.25). As you might expect from a Sauvignon, this is bright, zesty, fresh, and full of grapefruit and citrus. The addition of Shiraz (hence the colour) lends it weight and depth and imparts a satisfying note of blackcurrants to proceedings. Try this with green salads and roasted poultry or baked fish.

Spain is another good source of outstanding rosés – or rosados. Over the years, I’ve tasted hundreds, and rarely have I been disappointed. Recently I tried a new wine from a classic producer. Freixenet is best known for their excellent range of Cavas (more of those soon…), but they are also dab hands at still wines. Take their excellent Freixenet Rosado (Slurp £10). Garnacha-based, this is disarmingly pretty in pink but packs a punch. Bright strawberry and raspberry tones are joined by flavours of red cherry, orange and a touch of spice. Lovely on its own, I think this would partner well with rice dishes and cured meats.

As regular readers of this column may have gathered, I’m something of a fizz fan, in the same way that pandas are partial to bamboo. I recently had another encounter with an English sparkling wine with which we toasted the Queen’s Jubilee, the Balfour Brut Rosé (Waitrose £39.99). I recall being struck by how harmonious and refined this was when I first tried it and revisiting it; it’s even better. Bold strawberry, raspberry, and red currant notes tinted with creamy yeast, a lively, fresh mid-palate, and a long, salted digestive biscuit finish make this a class act.

“I’m something of a fizz fan, in the same way that pandas are partial to bamboo”

When most people think of Sancerre, their thoughts turn to gloriously leafy Sauvignons with their dry, mineral-rich finishes. Sancerre also comes in red and rosé styles which are produced using that most noble of vines, Pinot Noir. These tend to be more expensive and can be quite hard to find, so I was surprised to find an affordable example at Tesco, their Finest Sancerre Rosé (as opposed to their non-existent ‘ordinary’ or ‘value’ Sancerre Rosé – £13). This retains the classic Sancerre freshness and minerality, but with raspberry, strawberry, beetroot, black cherry, and pepper touches. This is fresh enough to be enjoyed on it’s own, but it would go brilliantly with pork or salmon.

And to finish, how about something indulgent, refined, and utterly exquisite? The Champagne Billecart-Salmon, Rosé (Mr. Wheeler £62.50) is all these things and more. This is one of the best rosé Champagnes I’ve ever had – and believe me, I’ve gone miles out of my way over the years to try as many as I can. The magic of this wine is how they manage to combine intensity with grace and generosity. This is a stunning wine offering layer upon layer of ripe strawberry, tangy blackberry, creamy yeast, soft apricot , and a dash of leafy blackcurrant. I’ve been fortunate enough to try this beautiful wine in various formats; the halves sit perfectly in the secret pocket of a Barber when you fancy a cheeky rinse at the cricket, and in magnum, it shows how well Champagne can age and develop. In any size bottle, this is a wine every wine lover should try.

Well, there’s a bottle of Freixenet Rosado in the fridge needing my attention, so I must away. Next time out, I’ll dive deeply into my favourite red wine region, Rioja.

The Christmas rose

Cherry Butler


Christmas rose is not a rose but in fact a hellebore and is in the buttercup family.

The Christmas Rose legend

According to legend a little shepherd girl from Bethlehem followed the other shepherds to the manger where Christ was born, but unlike them she had no gift to offer the baby Jesus. She searched but became upset because she couldn’t find anything suitable. Suddenly she was dazzled by a shaft of light which fell on a clump of pure white flowers. She picked some and laid them carefully at the manger. These were the very first ‘Christmas Roses’ to bloom on earth.

Use in the garden

Hellebores are naturally winter flowering or spring flowering depending on the type and are extremely hardy. They grow well in shade and the white flowered ones appear to glow and brighten up a dull winter border. Helleborus niger is often sold as a Christmas rose but is in fact one of the most temperamental. Helleborus orientalis is far more reliable in our climate and can also seed freely, cross breeding with it’s neighbours. There are a wide range of colours and flower types with several specialist nurseries selling them.

Black Death

Another interesting point is that Hellebores were used as a defence against the Plague! They suffer from a leaf spot which horticulturists call Hellebore black death… It is good practise to cut off the old leaves to allow the flowers and new leaves to develop.

Horticultural consultancy

I can spend half a day in your garden identifying your plants and teaching you how to look after them.

Cathie’s garden army

If you have lost control of your garden completely we are here to help! A qualified team of horticulturists can transform your garden in a day following a consultancy. Email [email protected], visit www.cathiesgardeningschool.co.uk and follow Cathie’s Gardening School on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.