Reinstating the Rose Garden at Cliveden

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Roses are expected to bloom from June until September © National Trust / Hannah Purcell

Roses are expected to bloom from June until September

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In 2014, we completed a project to reinstate the Rose Garden, based on an original 1950s design. Over 900 roses were planted to create a colourful summer long display.

The many layered garden

The Rose Garden was once a formal grassed area known as a ‘cabinet’. It was created for Lord Orkney in the 1720s as part of a ‘wilderness’ garden design, which was popular in the 18th century. It was often used for lawn games such as bowling and tennis until a symmetrical rose garden was planted sometime around the post-war period.

Design changes

In 1959 the third Viscount Lord Astor wanted to change the design of the garden and commissioned Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe to do just that. He created a dynamic yet secretive rose garden that provided the Astor family with a place to retreat away from their busy public lives. Unfortunately, the garden suffered from ‘rose disease’ and the flower beds were replaced with herbaceous planting in 2002. This was known as the Secret Garden until 2013.

Re-instating the Rose Garden

The project focused on reinstating the abstract design and atmosphere of the 1950s rose garden whilst also including features of the original 18th-century wilderness landscape. We lovingly restored the Jellicoe arches and introduced a steel edge to the flower beds to help them hold their abstract shapes. We also reduced the width of the outer shrub border, to make way for over 1,200 metres of lawn and planted a circular yew hedge which runs around the perimeter of the garden.

Having fun with colour

The Rose Garden's planting design is based on Lord Astor's original aspirations to create a garden that absorbs its visitors, through the introduction of tall roses in the outer beds and shorter roses on the inside. We planted over 900 roses using a fun colour scheme of reds, oranges and yellows. We chose to use David Austin roses and picked 44 varieties based on their height, colour, disease resistance, repeat flowering abilities and scent. 

Following a successful first year, the Rose Garden is expected to bloom from June until September 2015.