A beautiful English Rose garden in Mawdesley with 80 varieties
PUBLISHED: 00:00 28 August 2018
It's officially England's favourite flower and if you want to see some beautiful examples, follow Linda Viney to Mawdesley
Storm Hector swept through Bob and Margaret Mercer’s garden in Mawdesley the day before I arrived to take photographs. ‘I was on tenterhooks about what damage would have been done,’ Margaret told me. ‘Although some plants were knocked down, thankfully, the roses recovered quickly and, apart from losing some petals, all seems well.’
Although I knew roses were a major feature and their fragrance filled the air, I could see the garden had much more to offer, all set against a backdrop of Harrock Hill and a cypress tree majestically overlooking the area.
Bob, a farmer and agricultural engineer, was never into gardening but his favourite flower has always been the rose. Margaret had always wanted a beautiful garden and moving here was a good way of encouraging now retired Bob to get involved.
The rose collection of at least 80 varieties from English shrub and climbers, mostly from David Austin, are found all round the garden with a central display supported in a wrought iron gazebo made by Bob. Roses are well known to be tolerant, surviving in extreme conditions.
When you think of an English cottage garden it’s the first flower that comes to mind – no wonder it was voted as the favourite plant in the BBC Gardeners’ World survey.
When Margaret and Bob moved here ten years ago they demolished a breeze block garage and it wasn’t long before they discovered the existing patio and lawn were on concrete – 105 tons of it.
Once cleared, they had a blank canvas of half an acre to work with. Margaret was urged on to create the garden when she was approached to takes part in the village open gardens scheme.
‘I felt my garden would never be good enough, but realised it didn’t need to be perfect. From that opening I was approached by the National Garden Scheme and now open for them as well. Bob sells the tickets and cakes and I make sure I also have plants to sell. I also sell some plants and flowers at the gate with an honesty box.’
Margaret, brought up on a farm, has green fingers and loves nothing more than nurturing a sick plant back to life. She even has a ‘plant hospital’ in the greenhouse.
‘One of the best times I buy seeds is when the garden centres are selling them off as they start their Christmas displays,’ she said. A tip I may follow.
She not only has green fingers but an artistic eye and the borders flow with colour and texture from herbaceous plants and shrubs.
A gravel path leads round the edge of the garden taking you to an area full of plants in pots, some tender which need to overwinter indoors. An old tree stump is surrounded by a collection of sempervivums with a cordyline majestically placed in a pot on top of the stump. The use of gravel to surpress the weeds works well.
The path then curves round under an arch of red roses to the greenhouse and shed. The small flower beds have a mix of plants including candelabra primulas and hostas, the latter have benefitted from the hot dry summer as the slugs haven’t ventured out. I notice various supports – including an onion-shaped one for clematis – all constructed by Bob.
In the vegetable garden there is a good mix of plants. They discovered, to their cost, when they collected ten tons of mushroom compost for the roses potatoes are not at all keen. A lesson learned.
As we move on we pass and say hello to ‘Scrappy’ a fun model creation by Bob, of course. All the borders have shrubs and perennials. The stunning central island rose bed where their perfume fills the air has a delightful collection of roses many labelled.
Their daughter has an area of the garden where flowers are grown for her floristry business ‘Isla and Me’ named after her dog. She is also a member of ‘Flowers from the Farm’ and is looking for a larger place nearer her home. She now is one of the suppliers for Booths in Kirby Lonsdale. Margaret is a ‘gopher’ for Jill, helping her out when she has weddings and special events. This year the pressure is on as Margaret and Bob’s son is getting married.
Bob and Margaret’s garden, at 8 Andertons Mill, Mawdesley, near Ormskirk, L40 3TW, is open by arrangement during the summer. To find out more go to www.ngs.org.uk