Howick Hall’s Sensory Garden

A bench in an abundant flower garden

A bench tempts the visitor to linger and enjoy a visual feast of flowers

What makes a sensory garden different to any other garden? We can expect the boundaries to be pushed. Take Howick Hall’s new sensory garden, for example. Starting, as in any garden, with the soothing power of green, harmonious and contrasting textures and colours are layered on to stimulate us.

Silvery heart-shaped leaves, grasses and hydrangeas

Silver brunnera leaves with dwarf hydrangea and golden Japanese hakone

We respond with an instinctive head-turn as we half-spot a flash of wings between rustling leaves. Our thumbs and forefingers are stained and scented from crushing a rosemary leaf, just one of many fragrant plants around us. We tune in to sounds – water splashing, birdsong and the blunt music of windchimes.  Continue reading

Rosa ‘Tuscany Superb’: A Crimson Purple Gallica Rose With A Classic Old Rose Scent

A semi-double dark crimson rose with golden stamens

Rosa ‘Tuscany Superb”s semi-double flowers are full enough to amply frame a central boss of golden stamens, lifted by glimpses of white around the eye. The petals have a rich, velvety character. You’ll see ‘Tuscany Superb’ described as maroon, purple, crimson, burgundy. I’ve contented myself with crimson-purple, but you can take your pick! As the flowers age, their colour darkens.

We have relatively few scented, crimson-purple rose varieties, and this one remains popular with those who are willing to grow roses that are summer flowering (the industry term for once-flowering). While some roses are grown as a thorny deterrent, ‘Tuscany Superb’ rose is prickly at best.

Depending on which expert you believe (in the absence of the luxury of having a bloom before you to savour), the fragrance is either medium or strong. Everyone agrees on its character, which is a classic Old Rose fragrance.  Continue reading

The Very Fragrant Rose ‘Gertrude Jekyll’

Pink rose with a beautiful rosette shaped flower

On Sundays, I’m sharing a square cropped picture of a pink rose as part of Becky’s Square In September challenge. We are invited to dip in and out of this daily challenge as we please. She’s looking for a post where the main photograph is square and the subject is In The Pink.

Several people have asked if the roses I’ve been sharing this month are especially fragrant. Last week’s was not, so I promised a highly scented one for this week and I have kept my word. Rosa ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ has as strong and lovely an Old Rose fragrance as anyone could hope for. Scratch and sniff!

(It might work, if you have an active imagination).

Viola Odorata: Sweet Violets

Violets

This picture of sweet violets was taken with my iPhone: it’s a blessing to be able to have it with me for moments like these. The heart shaped leaves are scrolled up, perhaps  to funnel rain water down to the roots and the scented flowers are tiny but radiant. This is a quintessential cottage garden flower for me and I love to see posies made with them. Continue reading

Bliss in a bottle

I’m writing this with a shiny face. My mother has some unusual allergies (including to blue dye) and I’ve inherited enough skin sensitivity to be cautious. So don’t buy me expensive formulas of soap, shower gel or bath stuff – I’m a Simple girl in more ways than one.

If I fancy a blissful, relaxing bath, I often swirl in a few drops of natural essential oils before stepping in – perhaps rose or neroli, which is made from the flowers of Seville oranges.

Fragrant roseThis kind of bliss isn’t just for girls – my initially highly skeptical sweetheart now loves this kind of pampering (though he prefers jasmine, sometimes called the King of Essential Oils).

These three natural perfumes are luxury purchases but I enjoy having this small way to harness the natural healing and soothing power of plants.

The garden is more of a miracle than we know.  Continue reading