Last week we held a rose event for our visitors in the gardens here at Chartwell. This was a free event, but one that you had to register on in advance in order to attend. Despite the heavy rain that day, as shown by the number of umbrellas being used in the above picture, there was a good turn out of 15 or so hardy souls that wanted to learn about the significance of roses at Chartwell and how we go about caring for them.
Not only are roses important horticulturally to us gardeners, they also have many historical connections to Churchill and Chartwell. Many of our visitors already know about the Golden Rose Avenue in the Kitchen Garden being a gift to Sir Winston and Lady Churchill from their children on the occasion of their Golden Wedding Anniversary. But did you also know for example that Churchill tended to a small rose garden when he was stationed in Bangalore whilst serving in the army? Or that he planned to propose to Clementine in the rose garden at Blenheim Palace until a storm scuppered his plans?! The Churchills also had bouquets of roses at their wedding and there was a wreath of roses laid on Sir Winston’s coffin at his funeral. The rose garden at Chartwell was designed by Lady Churchill in conjunction with Venetia Montagu, based on Montagu’s own rose garden at Breccles.
I assisted Matthew with this rose event last Wednesday afternoon. Now, when I say assisted, I actually mean that I was little more than another attendee on Matt’s 90 minute talk on everything you could ever want to know about the Nation’s favourite plant! Matt has recently been promoted to the Formal Garden Supervisor at Chartwell and there isn’t much that he doesn’t know about the plants that we have here. He did a fine job of ‘show and tell’ for all of the various rose types we have in the gardens, from climbers and ramblers to modern bush roses and standards. Planting, mulching, feeding, watering, dead-heading, rose replant disorder, pests and diseases and also the various pruning and training methods were all covered thoroughly. We also tried to make sure we answered any questions that our visitors had about their own roses back at home. We had even set aside plenty of Hybrid Tea roses in Lady Churchill’s Rose Garden for everyone to have a go at pruning but because of the heavy rain, most people preferred to hang on to their umbrellas rather than pick up a cold, wet pair of secateurs! And who can blame them?!
We will be running plenty more events and talks in the gardens at Chartwell over the coming months so make sure you keep an eye on our website for any details. You might also find the information on the various posters that we have dotted around the property, whilst the staff in the Visitor Centre will be happy to metaphorically point you in the right direction too. We hope to see you at one of these future events where you might learn such amazing things like the fact that no rose actually has a thorn! Yes, you read that correctly! Thorns are modified stems which always originate at a node. They are found on the likes of Pyracantha. Roses have prickles instead, which are outgrowths of the stem epidermis. Remember that. It might come up in a pub quiz one day…