Rose Month at Smallhythe Place

The rose garden at Smallhythe Place

This article was created for our June 2019 programme and has now finished. This June, we celebrate the roses at Smallhythe Place with Rose Month, running 29th May - 30th June. Scattered throughout the garden in their shades of reds, whites, pinks, purples and yellows, Smallhythe Place is a haven of over 120 rose plants and 60 unique varieties.

" Of all the flowers, methinks a rose is best. "
- The Two Noble Kinsmen - William Shakespeare

With their heart-shaped petals, thought to represent love and trust (and often a symbol of femininity and beauty in literature) the rose is considered The Queen of Flowers. Their regal presence across the property perfectly epitomise Ellen Terry as ‘The Queen’ of Theatre, a name she earned from her long career on stage from the mid-1800s to the turn of the century.

 

Talks, Tours and demonstrations

Join us as we celebrate the beautiful and bountiful roses of Smallhythe Place.

We welcome Head Gardener of Sissinghurst Castle Garden to talk all things roses, followed by cream tea in the Tea-room.

Enjoy a guided tour around the gardens of Smallhythe Place with Head Gardener, Maxine. Learn about our different varieties of roses and their history and pick up top tips for caring for and growing your own. (Free - no booking required).

Join Assistant Head Gardener of Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Guy Pullen, in the gardens of Smallhythe Place as he demonstrates and discusses rose care best practice, planting and pruning.

  • Historic Garden Tours

Uncover the history of the gardens of Smallhythe with a guided tour around our historic property. Sundays 2 and 3pm. (Free - no booking required).

Visitors on a garden tour with the head gardener at Smallhythe Place

 

 

The history of our roses

When Ellen bought Smallhythe Place, originally a farm, the garden was effectively a blank canvas, nothing more than a collection of fenced paddocks used for farming. She saw great potential in the space and began making improvements and changes that laid the foundations for how it is today - a relaxed and informal English Cottage Garden.

The Barn Theatre framed by roses at Smallhythe Place

Ellen herself undertook the design and creation of the rose garden, composed of 4 beds separated by brick and grass pathways, and roses in abundance. Today this beautiful corner of the garden remains very much unchanged, overflowing with 56 diversely coloured garden roses, of which many are unique varieties, its secluded nature and the perfumed aroma oozes a sense of calm and tranquillity.

" The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem for that sweet odour which doth in it live. "
- Sonnet 54 - William Shakespeare

It was a perfect spot for Ellen to relax in away from her busy career as a leading actress treading the boards of London’s stages.

Over the years the Rose Garden has had numerous iterations, with varying amounts of underplanting to keep the flowers thriving, and to attract a diverse array of wildlife for critical pollination. Its current form was laid out in 2015 with the underplanting once again revised in late 2018, where the plants were carefully lifted, divided and compost added to improve the soil. Although none of the original roses remain, we only select varieties of roses that existed in Ellen’s time, dating from before 1928, the year of her death, a challenge we carry with us for all future improvements.

Blossoming roses in the rose garden at Smallhythe Place

The Ellen Terry Rose

The most famous of our collection here, and of great importance, is the ‘Ellen Terry’ rose, named after the actress in 1925 as a celebration following her Damehood. This is a beautiful butter yellow, fragranced flower of which two examples remain in the rose garden.

 

" What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. "
- Romeo & Juliet - William Shakespeare

This year we plan to get it propagated to increase the numbers we have available here at Smallhythe.

The Ellen Terry Rose at Smallhythe Place

Picture Perfect

16 roses and 12 unique varieties of roses cover the house and Barn Theatre, one of which is the iconic Phyllis Bide rose. Its sweet scent and pale peach colouring dramatically frame the entrance door and gracefully stretch up the front walls attracting a hive of wildlife throughout the summer months. Unsurprisingly, this view is one of our most photographed parts of the property, a picture-perfect image of which you can never tire.

The front entrance to Smallhythe Place, Kent, with flowers around the door and a climbing rose surrounding the window

Restoration

Elsewhere in the garden and away from the house, roses continue to blossom. Today, as was in Ellen’s time, the upper section of garden is dominated by a magnificent 170 ft pergola with a gazebo at one end. The gazebo and original pergola date from before 1910, but today’s pergola was built in 2016-2017 with generous funding from Tenterden and District National Trust Association. This is adorned with 52 rambling roses, of which 9 are unique varieties, and recreates the look and feel of the garden as it was in Ellen’s day.

The 170ft rose perogla at Smallhythe Place

Come and share a taste of summer and...

" …Luscious woodbine, With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine: There sleeps titania sometime of the night, Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight. "
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream - William Shakespeare