Cardinal de Richelieu
by LInda Pastorino
Those stiff red long stem roses, the ones I happily never received on Valentines day, are not the roses in my garden....
Fences and walls dripping with lavishly nodding aromatic wonders of all sizes and color... Endless walls wafting through the air with yards of perennial borders... still fresh in my memory from my first adult garden-aware trip to the UK.
That Kifgate rose, that special historical rose the ancestors of the house describe so well still climbing forever, and now several hundred years old rambling heavily into the next generation, left its mark in my mind. I tried unsucessfully to have Paul’s Himalayan Musk envelope the old apple tree on my property. It’s been abused by workmen over the years and has made no attempt to take over and drape the tree as it had been marketed to do, or I had hoped, yet it has survived when others have not.
My rose garden, with its intricate rooms of shaped lattice fencing, had become the heart of the garden with its perfect sun-bathed, well-tilled beds filled with luscious mushroom composted soil. I greensanded each of the 150 + holes I dug to exact depths and soaked each bare root plant in mini pools of water to pre-treat them.
As I detested seeing how American rose gardens were planted with Hybrid Ts sticking up bare within patches of ugly unadorned beds, I chose old rose varieties as well as David Austin and Buck roses planted up lattice walls and in island beds mixed thickly with perennials of all kinds. Lavender and chives planted in gravel paths thrived in the sunbaked heat.
The design came from the many walled gardens I had visited in the UK as well as the romanticly-designed traditional gardens I saw here on private garden tours. My daughter’s name in large block initials were the raised beds shape from an arial view.
Once I understood what traditional roses were all about, I set out to learn about rose culture, care and what style structure they should exist in. I purchased books about hardscape, looked at woodwork and purchased all the best rose books.
I selected roses based on those I had smelled and loved when on my trips and those roses that I could create beautiful floral arrangements with. ‘Cardinal de Richelieu’ was a favorite first encountered in my then mother-in-law’s garden. I selected older roses first and some of my favorites were ‘Piaget,’ ‘Rose deReitcht,’ ‘Honorine De Brabant,’ ‘Rein Victoria,’ ‘Constance Spry,’ Moss Roses and ‘Rose aMundi.’ I also decided to fill in with David Austin roses, many of which bloomed all season and had the appearance of antique roses.
Friendly companions were added such as varieties of clematis and rows of boxwood borders which created a vibrantly framed scene prior to the storm damage and years of neglect.
I learned how to prune, fertilize and irrigate. Issues with sediment getting stuck in the emmiters led to years of high water use, constant monitoring and a filtration system being put in place.
Then there were years of Japanese beetle ravage and a shorter flowering season, coupled with a systemic virus brought on by a lazy attempt at not keeping my shears cleaned properly.
June and July had lavish displays at first, then came August and September without flowers. If the weather was warmer, some roses flowered until November until the storm when most of the roses died due to damage and neglect.
The storm left that wondrous place a memory of the past with impassible conditions for over a year: structural damage to most of the hardscape, lack of irrigation and over-growth by weed infiltration to the over all garden.
Restoration of the rose garden through pruning, replacement and renewed maintenance will be presented in a special workshop on rose culture which will hopefully give the garden a new life.
** All photos by Linda Pastorino except as noted
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published March 09, 2017