Mixing Roses In

If you haven’t been to Wisley in the UK, go. As you’d expect, it’s an extraordinary garden, filled with gorgeous landscape moments. It’s the work of the Royal Horticultural Society which carries international punch for good reason. I visit often because I can, and because I want to. And each time I go I come away with a fresh view.

Roses in mass plantings

A fresh take on a rose garden – at Wisley the massed plantings are bold and not just roses.

A visit or so ago I saw that they had completely turned their rose garden on its head. No longer happy to grow the rose collection in the traditional format (rectangular beds – all very measured and scientific), they’d called in a visionary landscape architect (Robert Myers) who very sensibly has made it possible for roses to rub shoulders with other plants. (How did the rose become such an exalted flower where it could no longer grow amongst other more ordinary members of the plant kingdom?)

Anyway, now you can move through a beautiful landscape of massed, mixed garden beds where the roses look better than ever. Daylillies, kniphophia, salvias, heucheras, buddleia and whatever else have been combined to inspire us all to create gardens as good as these. If there’s one tip to pick up on it’s this: plant modern disease-resistant varieties, which is something they’re obviously doing at Wisley (I’ve proudly noted a nice chunk of our Flower Carpet White roses along one of the main paths). Anyway, here are some pics to share and drool over.

Planting in multiples

This is what I mean about mixing it up and it’s easy to get it looking as good if you plant in multiples – three of this, five of that, and nine of something else.


Wisley garden

In this close-up, taken early in the rose season, you can see how special just the foliage contrast is.


Border garden

I took this in another part of the garden – the more traditional long mixed borders which everyone thinks of as the essence of the British garden. And here tucked in with all sorts of favourites is a beautiful rose taking its place in that classic combination of blue, white, pink and grey.


Jim Gardiner at Wisley

This is Mr Wisley himself – Jim Gardiner along with my wife Sheryl showing us another new section of the gardens, the alpine plants and rockery. As I was saying, a visit to Wisley always offers up a fresh perspective and this is a brilliant display garden.





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