Roses at Coughton Court
The Throckmorton family rose garden at Coughton Court is recognised as one of the finest in the world and received the Award of Garden Excellence from The World Federation of Rose Societies in 2006 – the first British garden to have done so.
The garden was designed by Christina Williams as a gift to her mother, Clare McLaren-Throckmorton, the present owner of Coughton Court in 1996. It contains a breathtaking number of rose varieties and the smells and sights are not to be missed.
Christina has exhibited at the Chelsea Flower Show and in 2010 won a Gold medal and Best in Category for the urban courtyards category.
The labyrinth features a statue of Fair Rosamund. She was reputedly one of the great beauties of the twelfth century and inspired ballads, poems, stories and paintings. According to legend King Henry II adopted her as his mistress, and in order to conceal his affair from Queen Eleanor, it was carried out within the innermost recesses of a complicated maze (labyrinth) which he had made in his park. Rumours however reached the ears of the Queen and she managed to find her way into the Labyrinth and confronted her terrified and tearful rival. She then forced her to choose between the dagger and a bowl of poison; Rosamund chose the latter and died. Around her statue is planted a variety of rose called Rosa Mundi which was named in her memory.
The gardens boast over 200 different varieties of roses - shrub, climbing and rambling. These are found not just in the labyrinth but in many other areas as well. One feature of the labyrinth is that the roses are all underplanted with herbaceous perennials unlike a traditional rose garden where there is a lot of bare earth. One of the most spectacular, in season, is the foxgloves.
The roses are regularly deadheaded to encourage reflowering and extend the season. A large number of varieties, including some with spectacular hips also help with this.