Outdoor Manager's Blog May 2016

Hardwick garden roses in the the East Courtyard

Welcome to the Outdoor Manager’s monthly blog. Watch this space for the latest news about what’s happening at Hardwick, Stainsby Mill and Eyam Hall in the great outdoors. Ian will be sharing his personal memories, quirky facts, top tips and activities you can get involved in on your next visit.

Roses, a thorny subject
The thorny subject of roses is a hot topic at Hardwick right now as we gear up towards the start of our month-long rose festival which begins on Saturday 28 May. Prior to becoming Outdoors Manager in 2009 I had spent nearly all of my working life as a gardener most of it with the Trust.

Both my father and grandfather we mad keen gardeners but had distinctly different outlooks on what to grow. My father was a firm believer that flowers came second best and you should grow things to eat. My grandfather was the opposite and had a luxuriant bed of roses in all shapes, sizes, colours and scents which I used to play amongst as a child.

I do have to admit though that I have not always been a huge rose ‘fan’! As a junior gardener I have memories of cold winter days pruning roses and by the end of the day having freezing cold fingers covered with blood from endless ‘pricks’ by the sometimes vicious thorns.

The beautiful rose
In time my opinion of the rose has mellowed and their beauty has become apparent. The sheer variety of size, shape, colour and scent means there is a rose for every situation from window box to country house garden and to be honest the beauty of the rose cannot be denied.

I am especially fond of the shrub roses we grow in the East Court here at Hardwick. Their muted, pastel shades and often beguiling scent are a joy in June and if dead-headed correctly they treat us to this again in September. Their names evoke images of by-gone times; ‘Buff Beauty’, ‘Cornelia’ and ‘Prosperity’ are very much names of the 1920’s and 1930’s when these roses were bred.

A garden designed by a duchess
The roses are also an integral part of the life of Duchess Evelyn, the Last Lady of Hardwick whose story we are telling this year. A keen and knowledgeable gardener much of her work can be seen in the East Court and she would have originally introduced roses to this area.

She would have undoubtedly have seen the roses we grow today when they were shown at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and other flower shows in the 1920’s and 1930’s and this has influenced our choice of these roses for the borders today. Our celebration of her life and her love of roses has led us to have a rose festival this year.

Make a difference to your roses today
Take the opportunity to make a start at home. Top tips for keeping your roses looking good this June. Keep an eye out for pest and diseases at this time of year, greenfly are around and looking for places to live and eat. Feed regularly to ensure healthy flowers. Hopefully with a little sun, your roses will start to bloom, now is the time to sit in a deckchair and enjoy the scents and colours of your roses.

Next month I’ll be sharing tales of Duck Decoys and Ice Houses as our major restoration project comes to an end.

Your secateurs will come in handy
Gardener pruning roses
Your secateurs will come in handy