British folk love their gardens. I mean, they really love them. I have spoken to a true enthusiast and he confessed that he had more pictures of his plants than of his children. He loves the Latin names and the yearly competitions that name a winner among the houses in a neighbourhood or in a county.
I have asked what makes the perfect garden and the answer came quickly in the form of shrubs and roses. Roses for their dazzling colors, big and beautiful petals and their climbing nature. They are hard to work with as they require constant pruning and watch for disease, but a strong & powerful hybrid can last for years.
For centuries the British have been a nation at the vanguard of garden design and planting. But it now feels like there is a chasm here that hasn’t yet been bridged between herbaceous borders and roses and romantic gardens, and how grasses and perennials are used in new ways. Not only in the scale of the space, but also because the marine climate of Britain does not provide the roasting summers or crisp winters that gardens of the Low Countries or the East Coast of the US exploit to such effect.
I think the British will always be obsessed with the roses and a romantic idea for their gardens; it comes with their love and connection to their landscape.
“Two British gardeners who undoubtedly changed the vision of gardeners for ever are William Kent and Capability Brown. At Rousham, Kent showed his admiration for the living landscapes he experienced during the 10 years he spent on the Grand Tour, inventing landscape design in the process. As for Brown, he was a genius and his work was immense in every way.
“These two both belong to the iconography of the soul of our civilisation, and they continue to be a core inspiration in contemporary British gardens.”
“Of course your heritage can be a burden, but I would not be worried because there are so many different groups of professionals in the UK – plants people, university people, lighting architects, water specialists – who are really interested in gardens. That isn’t the case in many other countries, I would say.