Bodnant Garden: One of Britain’s Best Rose Gardens

Rosa 'Grace'

Bodnant is a hillside garden with five grand terraces overlooking the Conway valley in Wales. Like so many of our best-loved gardens, it was created over several generations by a succession of enthusiasts.

I first visited as a child and mainly remember the grassy hillside above the ‘main’ gardens. Children are such funny creatures. I wonder if I was encouraged to run off a little energy there or taken on a lengthy hike? More recently my sweetheart and I have visited at various times of the year, though never in autumn. Gathering the pictures for this post has given me a longing to go and see the fall colours, so another visit may be imminent!

Interesting at any time of the year, Bodnant is spread over 80 acres, so most visitors will only manage to explore a fraction on a single visit. During the summer I’m sure many people make a beeline for the rose gardens on the upper and lower terraces.

White roses at Bodnant Gardens

The upper rose terrace is so long that it has room for several colour themes. I’m sharing the white roses for the moon garden lovers among us – just look at all those buds!   Continue reading

Clematis florida Viennetta

Clematis florida Viennetta

This clematis was a head-turner of a plant. I felt like one of the paparazzi as I lined up with jostling amateur and professional photographers at a recent flower show for my chance to take its picture.

The attraction? Masses of white flowers with showy, fully double centres in shades of purple and green hanging gracefully from a compact vine. I captured these blooms open, in their best finery, but if you search online, you’ll discover a rather strange assortment of pictures. They’re testimony to the way the flower changes as it opens from a gawky youngster to something much more regal.  Continue reading

Enveloped in roses

Rosa Constance Spry

This week’s photo challenge is enveloped. Once happily established, a climbing rose will cover its support, then smother it with blooms. Rosarians explain that the trick is to match the potential size of the plant with the scale of the structure you want to clothe. Choose a rose that is too vigorous and you’ll have the heartbreak of cutting many healthy flowering stems away. Get it right and you’re in for a treat!

Continue reading

A living window frame

Plant trained round a window

Isn’t it amazing what man and nature can achieve, hand in hand, when they try?

You wouldn’t think this climber would grow at at all, planted so close to the wall of a classic, sandstone terraced cottage, let alone form a wonderful living window frame. We found it in The Cotswolds, on our way to Hidcote Gardens.  Continue reading

Tips for photographing roses 13: Seek out the rare

It is much easier to get a lovely picture of an individual flower or even a small cluster of blooms than to take a good shot of the whole plant in a garden setting. If you see a shapely plant covered in fresh, open blooms, please give it a try, even if you tend to have more success with individual flower shots.

Great shrub or climber shots of roses in full flower in an attractive context are surprisingly rare. They simply don’t exist for many varieties.

I’m not confident about taking this kind of shot myself, but when the picture before you is so lovely, you have to have a go! This picture shows shrub and climbing roses near the peak of flower in a wide border around David Austin’s Plant Centre in Albrighton, England.

Shrub and climbing roses at David Austin's Plant Centre

Seven Sisters Rose

Seven Sisters RoseThis striking old multiflora climbing rose was named after the seven heavenly sisters of ancient mythology – the Pleiades – who are also commemorated in the name of a star cluster in the constellation of Taurus.

The name is very apt: its scented flowers gradually change colour as they mature, so shades of carmine, purple, pink, mauve to almost silver appear on the plant, creating the effect of several roses, closely intertwined.

Photographed at Coton Manor, Northampton, England, where it grows around the traditional, mullioned windows.