The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

From Versailles to vegetables

Photo: Nameless rose

Photo: Nameless rose

I will never forget the eyes of a garden centre owner swelling like organ stops when he heard me chatting to Seraphina and referring to a part of my garden as the ‘Versailles section’.

I had designed a forty foot rose walk, a broad path where two could walk abreast and enjoy the scent of old roses in deep borders either side. A sort of scaled down semi formal vista that you might find in any old European garden. I have no idea why I thought of Versailles. Perhaps it was an old echo of the Moberly-Jourdain incident.

This was many years ago when my interest in vegetable growing was dedicated to just a single growbag filled with tomato plants each summer.

Gradually over the years we have chipped away at this haven. The chicken run stole thirty feet one summer, seven years ago. Then the rest of this border was made into a walk in fruit cage. As the vegetable garden has expanded we’ve dug up more and more rose bushes until only a few were left. The pride of these being a magnificent eight foot rose tree which was beautiful but cast a vast shadow on the vegetable beds.

This is my favourite rose of all time but we decided this summer that it just had to go. We could plant another one somewhere else if we wanted. The problem is that I don’t know its name. Can you help?

So for an hour each day I’m tackling the final removal of the Versailles section. I’ve given the rose bushes a short back and sides and fed the chunky stalks into a rather smart garden shredder that has spent years being tripped over in the shed. Now Danny has to dig out the roots which will be a long hard job. Hopefully alleviated by the thought of barrow loads of even more fresh organic vegetables.


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9 Comments

  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hello FloweryB

    Yes – I read the name and it rang a bell. Thank you so much!

    We get through loads of homemade elderflower cordial each year. I never make enough.

    Hi HellyB

    Yes David Austen is a great place to start. We will plant more roses in the garden but at the moment the priority is fresh fruit and veg.

    Hi Paula

    It’s a stunning rose.

    Hello Lavender and Thyme

    I’m pretty sure it is too now. Mistakenly though it was Zephirine Drouhin but when I looked ZD up on the internet it clearly was not this rose.

    Thanks for your help.

    Hi Clare

    Yes I’m a member of the RHS. I didn’t know about this service so thanks for the tip.

    Hi KarenO

    Yes, I’ve taken a cutting just in case. Good idea.

    Hi S.O.L.

    They look great. I’m sure that they’ll catch on eventually as they must be so much cheaper to produce than plastic bottles.

    Hi Chris

    It was stunning in its glory days. I might have an old photo kicking about somewhere. ATM everything seems to be lost!

  2. The rose walk sounded stunning. Can you post any photos of it in full flower? Would love to see. Such a shame it had to go but I understand your motives.
    Hope you are feeling better and have had good results from the tests.

  3. hey there

    Saw this thought of your previous post Re. milk bags… I said about the jug with the spikes in, that you can by in canada.

    Well they are finally catching on. see here

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/devon/8187434.stm

    Hope you are feeling better!

  4. Can’t you take a cutting and pop in a pot for the time being. I think they strike fairly easily – or is it too late. I’ve no idea what it is btw.

  5. Don’t know if you’re an RHS member or not, but I believe they have a service for members where you can post a leaf and a flower through (packed in damp cotton wool in a box is best) and they’ll identify anything for you. If it’s likely to be a fairly common rose (ie bought at a normal garden centre) then it may be in the plant finder book. David Austen is a good call, and there’s another breeder in Scotland I think.

    Good luck!

  6. lavender and thyme

    I’m with FloweryB I think it might be M Isaac Pereire.

    jess.

  7. Very nice rose indeed.

  8. I’ve just found your site and love it – but this broke my heart ! All those lovely roses gone – sob, sob !!! My advice would be take a really good close up photo of the flowers and leaves (if you have any left!) and email to David Austin roses or get their rose brochure. You may find your rose in there – I’m sure they’d be able to help!

  9. FloweryB

    Hello there, this is my first comment on your site but I look in most days and have today decided to register. I think your rose may be Madame Isaac Pereire,you say it’s a large bush/tree and from the photo looks like a bourbon type, the Madame is both and should have a strong perfume. How sad it has to go but please plant another, it looks lovely! I’m so fasinated with all your goings on, I first found you when looking for a recipe for Elderflower Cordial. It was so lovely, I thought I’d made enough to see the two of us through but I now wish I’d made more, I served it as the non alco drink at my brothers birthday party, everyone loved it and guzzled almost all, now I’m left with about 200ml and a long wait until next year!

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