Ewan and Jenny Harper assisted by gardener Tom have created one of the great rose gardens of the United Kingdom, an accolade hard won by dedication, diligence, hard work, passion and plantsmanship. They grow their plants beautifully, the roses are full of vigour, with clean foliage and bearing flowers chosen for their all-pervading fragrance.
It is the Harper’s passion and plantsmanship that makes this garden several cuts above the average. The plants are meticulously fed and they are beautifully pruned and trained. There is not a plant that looks wan compared with its neighbour. This is the garden you should visit when you are seeking guidance on how to grow roses from the experts.
Four and a half acres of garden rooms house a wonderful, well thought out collection and spectacle of roses. It must have taken many long winter evenings (surely, they have no time during the longer evenings) to assess which varieties of shrubs, climbers, ramblers, and species should be chosen to go where. There are many old favourites including representatives of the Bourbons, the Gallicas, the Hybrid Perpetuals, the Portlands, the Rugosas and the Hybrid Musks including the largest ‘Buff Beauty’ I have ever seen, growing not that far from an equally statuesque ‘Perle D’Or’; most of us think we are doing well to grow this Chinensis Hybrid to three and a half feet. Ewan and Jenny have a penchant for rarities that include among many others ‘Alida Lovett’, a lovely Hybrid Wichurana, ‘Duchesse De Montebello’ a light pink Hybrid China, and the dark red, superbly fragrant Centifolia, ‘Duc de Fitzjames’.
Impressive as the shrubs are it is the sheer grandeur of the ramblers and climbers, among them ‘Adelaide d’Orleans’, ‘La Mortola’, ‘Rambling Rector’, ‘Pauls Himalayan Musk’, Rosa mulliganii, that steal the show.
This is a very special garden.
Dr. Robert E. Mattock
Mattock Rose Research Centre, Oxford University
Professional rose grower