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  • Gillian Taylor

for the love of roses

On a wet and windy evening in November over 40 people ventured out to hear a passionate talk by Gillian. As a former vet, her recent retirement and change to horticulture seems to have released another side of life that she is fully involved with, being now a member of the Historic Rose Group, Auricula Society, Hampshire Gardeners Trust, Plant Heritage to name but a few. She already grew roses in her French property and liked their free-flowing style. Bringing those ideas back to England she now has experimented with over 250 varieties.

The type of rose you buy is very much a personal choice but for climbers she favoured Constant Spry. It was the first David Austin rose and is a deep pink double petal rose with a strong scent.  For Ramblers, which suited her style of loose borders she liked the perennial Blush Climbing Rose with its pale pink fading to white flowers.

As the Rose flowering season can be short it is important to fill in the gaps in a traditional style garden with other hardy plants such as salvia (Phyllis Fancy and Amistad being a highly recommended), ferns (Cristate the King she liked), and chrysanthemums. Alternatively bare soil can be hidden by using the ground cover range of which she recommended Crystal Fairy rose that produces large clusters of flowers with minimal pruning or the compact Rosa Trumpeter.

There are many rose breeders but those with special mention were Kordes, a German breeder whose roses suit our climate, Jack Harkness of which she recommended the Portland Species, Pococks (good value for money), David Austin and C&K Jones.

Getting the right hand tools for the job was important and she recommended Felco size 2 to be the best as every part was replaceable if necessary. Also, Jakoti hand shears were mentioned for their self-sharpening qualities and easy of use with arthritic hands, left or right.

Useful Tips

  • Bending over and staking bows promotes flowers from every leaf nodule. Remember to cut the tip off or it will carry on growing.

  • Don’t dead head and enjoy the rose hips in the winter months.

  • Use soft plastic covered ties.

  • Uncle Toms Rose Tonic – a high potash feed idea for foliage spray.

  • Ash from a wood burner is an ideal feed.

  • Spread mulch 3-4 inches deep to stop disease and protect the roots.

  • When trying to identify the rose breeder in the catalogues, look for the first 3 letters Eg KOR for Kordes.

  • Choose roses with “Gold Standard” in the catalogues not Rose of the Year which can be misleading.

Garden Visits recommended

  • Sissinghurst – a National Trust property with gardens recreated along the original planting themes of the formal designs of Harold Nicolson and the exuberant planting of Vita Sackville-West

  • Houghton Lodge – a former 18th Century fishing lodge on the river Test with rambling informal gardens


Shrub Roses

William Lobb

Jacqueline du Pre

Wild Edric         

Eden Rose

Chapeau Napoleon


Charles de Mills 






Lady of Shallot

Ville de Bruxelles



Scarlet Fire

Sally Holmes

Jacqueline du Pre

Caroline’s Heart 

Ferdinand Pichard

Ground Cover

Centre Stage





Fairy Carpet


Constance Spry




Blush Rambler

Open Arms

Sanders White

Laure Davoust



Clair Matin

Rambling Rosie

Adelaide d’Orleans

Ghislaine de Feligonde

Mme Isaac Periere

Paul’s Scarlet

Francis E Lester

Chris Warner roses discussed

Open Arms

Angel Eyes

For Your Eyes Only

Centre Stage

Peter's Persica

Breeders abbreviation examples

Kordes : Kor

Chris Warner :  Chew

Poulsen : Poul

Harkness : Har

Horner : Hor

UK Suppliers Used

Online: Trevor White Old-Fashioned Roses

Apuldram Roses and nursery

Peter Beales

Seale Nurseries, Farnham and nursery

Pocock's Roses - online and nursery

Henry Street, Reading and nursery

Gardens Mentioned

  • Mottisfont Gardens, Hampshire – National Trust

  • Thenford, near Banbury – Lord Heseltine – open on selected days, prebooking required.

  • Athelhampton, Dorset – HHA

  • Upton Grey, Hampshire – Jekyll Garden, summer opening

  • Woolbeding, West Sussex – National Trust

  • Loseley Park, near Guildford – HHA

  • Bowood, Wiltshire

  • West Dean, near Chichester – HHA

  • Sissinghurst, Kent – National Trust

  • Houghton Lodge, near Stockbridge – HHA


  • Uncle Tom’s Tonic      

  • Plastic coated Rose Tie

  • Felco Secateurs          

  • Jakoti hand shears

  • Heuchera villosa ‘Autumn Bride’      

  • Dryopteris filix- mas ‘Cristata the King’

  • Salvia Forsskaolii

  • Salvia Phyllis Fancy, Salvia Lake Tahoe and Salvia Amistad

  • Hardy Chrysanthemums

Simon Edgington


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