An 18th century farmhouse with beautiful mixed borders and an exceptional range of roses.
As you turn into the driveway of Susanna’s home near Bridgenorth the mid 18th century red brick Georgian farmhouse with pillared portico and steps to the front door sits comfortably in its rural surroundings. Farm buildings to the rear and arable fields to the front add a stunning outlook. A sweeping gravel driveway forks right towards the garages and straight on towards the house. A haha to the left defines a drop in levels onto a grassed area planted with mature chestnut trees and a three-metre-wide border above it flanks the full length of the driveway.
Columns of magnificent teasels, five feet high, are joined by clumps of Doronicum - a tall variety that flowers almost up until July. Foxgloves, Geum ‘Mrs J Bradshaw’, and alliums give an informal feel while dahlias are planted throughout the border to offer late summer colour along with Phlox and Sedum. An ancient oak probably as old as the house, along with shrubs such as Deutzia, Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’, Viburnum carlesii, and roses, add permanence to the dynamic planting.
The roses in this border thrive in the well-maintained beds with delicate white ‘Francine Austin’ spilling over steps built into the haha, while indecently beautiful ground cover rose ‘Raubritter’ spreads out its globes of clenched-fisted pink petals. Highly fragrant and repeat flowering ‘The Generous Gardener’ nods its arching stems of pale pink blooms while slightly eccentric ‘Christopher Marlow’ shows off his orange-red petals with a hint of gleaming gold. ‘Benjamin Britton’, not one to be shy, mingles unapologetically with its deeply cupped rosettes of deep-red glazed shades of salmon pink.
Off the driveway and onto grass a brisk walk takes you up through the old rose garden where Susanna’s mother-in-law once had over a thousand roses. With maintenance an issue it is now part of the lawn. At the top is the vegetable garden. Previously laid to lawn it was created sixteen years ago and comprises four timber edged rectangular beds intersected by gravel paths and enclosed to the front by a waist-high box hedge. Apple ‘Winstone’ (originally ‘Winter King’ until being renamed after WW2) is trained on the rear wall along with late flowering and self-fertile plum ‘Marjorie’s seedling’. A fruit cage is home to raspberries, red currants, and black currants.
To the top end of the vegetable garden is a mixed bed taking up the space where the compost heaps were originally sited. A large laurel has been recently ’tamed’ and shares the space with repeat flowering rambler ‘Ghislaine de Feligonde’ and ‘Dame Judi Dench’ an apricot-orange shrub rose from David Austin. To the front are perennials Stachys macrantha ‘Superba’, Doronicum, Phlomis, and Lysimachia ‘Firecracker’. A beautiful old lawn-roller leans against the fruit cage, beyond which is a small bed planted with bronze-red Iris ‘Indian Chief’ from the late 1920’s and rose-pink ‘Jennifer Rebecca’ (1980’s). A stunning island bed set into the lawn nearby is planted with a large swathe of the exceptional and early flowering Rose ‘Gertrude Jekyll’, its large pink flowers filling the air with its quintessential old rose fragrance and underplanted with Lavender ‘Munstead’ that Susanna patiently grows from seed. Rose-breeder David Austin developed the pink rose 'James Galway’ in the year 2000 and this is planted in another island bed nearby. Purchased as a shrub rose - but turning out to be a climber - the enthusiastic flautist is seven feet high and looks quite happy supporting itself out in the open.
A corner bed up against the house is home to a number of Peonies including ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ and an unnamed double red variety mingling with hellebores, Geraniums, and honesty. Walking past the front door, the beautiful climbing rose ‘Falstaff’ taps at one of the downstairs windows while at its feet the incredible chestnut coloured iris ‘Pride of Kent’ shares the bed with Peony ‘Coral Charm’ a double Geranium, white honesty, and a Hebe, a leaving present from a much-loved postman.
The right-hand wing of the farmhouse is planted with great confidence with roses ‘Constance Spry’ and ‘Shropshire Lad’. A 10-metre-long planting of the English shrub rose ‘Kew Gardens’ offers a stunning sight and is visible as you swing into the drive. It’s soft white blooms, with a hint of yellow in its eye, flower continuously from early summer and into autumn.
In the relatively short time Susanna has lived here she has turned the garden into one of beauty and charm displaying her passion for plants and skills in design and practicality. Ever one with an eye for a good rose or good performing perennial, Susanna will continue to evolve the garden with her imaginative planting and desire for improvement.