Originally published in 1902 by Country Life, Roses for English Gardens was a two part book; Gertrude Jekyll wrote the first sixteen chapters on these roses of the day while Edward Mawley rounded out the book with notes on cultural care. Many of these roses are still available, mostly on their own roots (much recommended by myself), and make a wonderful addition to any garden.
The most common complaint with ‘Old Garden Roses’ is that many do not rebloom but it is generally accepted that they carry as many blooms per plant as do reblooming roses so you can imagine what a spectacle the shrub presents in early summer when it packs all of those yearly blooms into a 5 or 6 week period (or thereabouts). Reblooming is not something that we demand of Rhododendrons or fruit trees – why do we accept the almost complete exclusion of these once-blooming treasures of days past? Many of the Old Garden or antique roses do, in fact, rebloom; Rugosas, Hybrid Musks, Noisettes, china’s, Teas etc – so there is a wealth of reblooming material amongst the older roses to spread the colour out through the year.
I also find that, although many of them will consume more room in a garden, they are a much more attractive shrub then the more modern rose and contribute to the display in more subtle ways. That most of them are easy to care for is perhaps even more important – pruning is less of an issue (let them roam) and they are largely immune to the various diseases that plague modern roses. Finally, the scents emanating from these roses is far superior to that of modern roses.
Once again Miss Jekyll demonstrates her consummate skill and broad gardening knowledge as she recounts her experiences, favourites and peculiarities amongst the roses of yesterday. I’ve posted the entire half of the book authored by Miss Jekyll and have also attached a Word Document of the book. Neither contain any of her images from the original book so it only amounts to 55 pages.
Download the entire book!