Thursday, 2 September 2010

Red Hat Lady Rose

Earlier this year, I discovered the reason why my attempts at growing roses was doomed to failure. Our garden is pure chalk. Lavender thrives here, as do all the winter-flowering shrubs and evergreens I've planted over the years. I always thought it was my fault that my roses died after the first season. I reasoned that, as Harkness Roses 'nursery' fields were just one road away, they, too, must be on chalk.

I spoke to the plantsman in Spring because I wanted to plant a Red Hat Lady Rose. How could I prevent the same fate befalling my new rose? Did Harkness add something to the soil? The answer surprised me. The road which divides the Harkness Rose fields from the Harkness Estate on which I live, is an old Roman Road. To the West of the road, the edge of the town and surrounding farmland is on a ridge of The Chiltern Hills, a limestone ridge. To the East, the outskirts of the neighbouring town of Letchworth and surrounding farmland is sandy loam, with some clay. Harkness always uses fields to the East of the road. Cadwell Farm, the home of Hitchin Lavender, and my garden, is on land West of the road.

Did this mean I could not have my Red Hat Lady Rose?

It did not.

The Red Hat Lady Rose is well-suited to be grown in patio pots and containers.

Here is mine, double-potted with a layer of John Innes Number 3 between the pots, because my 20 year-old clay pots have been frost damaged at some stage. When the rose outgrows the inner pot, I will have to empty the piggy-bank and buy a new larger one.

I do worry about who will care for the rose during our absences on the boat but, for the time being, I'm enjoying my new Red Hat Lady.