The previous layout of the Gardens had made them a difficult place to lose yourself in, made up of mostly soft, low-level planting. We wanted to encourage exploration, and decided to give the Gardens a stronger structure with more variation in height.
The master plan incorporated willow trees within the pergola and pond garden, which complemented the tall purple beeches and created cool, shady areas that visitors could enjoy on hot summer afternoons.
A new group of tall Indian bean trees enticed visitors to discover the beds of old rose species beyond, and in the distance mahogany-stemmed Prunus Serrula planted amid giant oat grasses provided a shimmering backdrop to the Gardens.
The stronger structures introduced in the master plan created smaller, more intimate areas. Yew hedges planted to divide the Gardens and shield some of the more vulnerable planting allowed the flowers to be revealed gradually, and created enclosed areas of roses and soft perennials. I also designed an elliptical pergola for the Gardens, which was smothered in climbing roses of all colours. This shady retreat was filled with their heady perfumes, set-off by the fragrance of Munstead lavender planted along the pergola’s base.
The structural planting was designed to act as a foil for the roses, elucidating their softness, colour, shape and character. Dark Sambucus ‘Black Lace,’ Red-hot pokers and 6-foot Snapdragon rockets added strong, vertical accents, as did Verbascums, White Foxtail Lilies and columns of Irish Yew. Around these my team and I planted grasses for a contrast in form, such as coppery Carex buchanii and wispy Stipa tenuisissima, which moved in the gentlest breeze.
By adding structure, contemporary planting, winding paths and enclosed areas, the Julian Tatlock Landscape Design team transformed the Royal National Rose Society’s traditional gardens. In the new Gardens of the Rose visitors create their own experience, rather than following the crowds, something we have found that appeals to both the traditionalists as well as the new generation of rose lovers.