A revamp of the Scented Garden is one of the many exciting plans we have for the garden at Uppark for 2014. Especially exciting for me, as I’m the lucky one who’s been asked to come up with ideas for the new planting.
For anyone who doesn’t know the Scented Garden, it’s an intimate space measuring about 24m x 16m (roughly 80ft x 50ft), enclosed by yew hedging on one side and a flint wall on the other. Located near to the house, the space is surrounded by tall trees – mainly old yews and the Norway maples that line the Drive. This adds to the ‘secret hideaway’ feel of the garden but also presents some challenges in terms of plant selection.
We’re refreshing the planting in two 19m (roughly 62ft) long beds that run north-south behind the yew hedge. Those who already know the Scented Garden will be pleased to hear that we’re keeping the best of the existing planting. Staying are the rugosa roses (the white Rosa ‘Blanche Double de Coubert’ and the crimson-purple R. ‘Roseraie de l’Hay’), the striped pink Bourbon rose, R. ‘Ferdinand Pichard’, and the white regale lilies (Lilium regale ‘Album’).
We’ll also be growing the deliciously scented sweet pea ‘Cupani’ (Lathyrus odoratus ‘Cupani’) again this year.
Our plan is to increase the sense of harmony in the Scented Garden through the planting design, introduce more scented plants, and improve the historical relevance of this part of the garden. This fits well with other interesting work underway rediscovering the garden’s history, our restoration work, Gothick seat, circuit paths and our Garden Conservation Statement.
A rose garden?
So what do we know about the history of the Scented Garden? Maps from the late nineteenth century show a small garden in this same location with paths leading south to the house forecourt and the dairy just as there are today. This may well have been the site of a formal rose garden.
Rose gardens were a typical feature of the later work of Humphry Repton, the great English landscape designer whose designs shaped the gardens and exterior of the house at Uppark in the early nineteenth century. Repton’s suggestions for Uppark included an 1812 design for a rose garden with a pergola.
We don’t know for sure whether Repton’s design for a rose garden at Uppark was ever realised. However, a surviving pebble path with angled ends in the Scented Garden is a good match for the footprint of Repton’s proposed rose pergola. And the nineteenth century maps show the position of the pebble path with a curved garden to the west – again a good match for Repton’s rose garden design.
Coming up roses
Taking the lead from the garden’s history, we’ve decided to base the new planting design on old roses. The roses will be planted alongside herbaceous perennials and aromatic shrubs such as rosemary and lavender, with some bulbs and annuals providing flashes of seasonal interest.
I love roses! And here on the Sussex/Hampshire border, we don’t have to look far for inspiration on imaginative ways to design with them. The world famous Rose Garden at Mottisfont, created in the early 1970s by Graham Stuart Thomas, provides a masterclass in mixing old roses with herbaceous perennials. And at Hinton Ampner, roses feature throughout the beautiful gardens as well as taking centre stage in the Rose Garden which was replanted in 2005 with over 45 old and new varieties.
So we’ve considered the Scented Garden’s history, chosen old roses as our motif, and looked to nearby gardens for inspiration. Now we’re finalising the plant list and working on the planting plan; I’ll share both in my next blog. In the meantime, we hope you’ll enjoy exploring these and other developments in the garden when we reopen in March.