Spotlight on: Emmetts at Ide Hill
PUBLISHED: 12:27 11 April 2015 | UPDATED: 12:27 11 April 2015
An Edwardian estate that became both a plantsman's passion and a family home is now celebrating the return of a long-lost rose garden
Emmetts Garden, which stands on one of the highest spots in Kent at Ide Hill, near Sevenoaks, is celebrating the end of a remarkable restoration project this month that sees the return of dozens of beautiful scented roses for the first time in over a century.
Using photographs from the early 1900s as reference, the restored Edwardian rose garden recaptures the delicate pink roses and pastel borders that its original creator, Frederic Lubbock, designed for his wife as part of this romantic landscape.
The rose garden would originally have been the focus of the formal area of Emmetts Garden and, with its pink hues and blush blooms, is affectionately known as the ‘Ladies’ Garden’.
Simon Walker, head gardener, says: “The original roses were mainly chosen by Frederick’s wife Catherine for their scent, small size and feminine pink colours.
“ Photos showed how dwarf roses and weeping standard varieties were laid out in a pattern with co-ordinating underplanting of spring perennials. It was extremely well thought out and it’s been a delight to recreate this pretty pastel landscape.”
Funding for the rose restoration came from local National Trust centres and associations, who were inspired to act by Cathy Barnard, a volunteer at Emmetts Garden with a keen interest in its history.
Several other volunteers joined the resident gardening team over the winter to plant the roses, overcoming cold, wet and windy conditions to complete the work.
“Everyone really wanted to get the job done so that the roses would be in flower this season,” says Simon. “It took us four months to plan everything, then seven weeks to plant all the roses.
“We had a tent that we moved around to keep areas dry as we worked – it was the only way to combat the wet weather!
“Once the roses were in, we added a layer of perennial spring bulbs, including anemones and crocuses, to sustain the colour for a longer time period and to match the original designs for the garden to always be in colour.”
Now the restoration is complete, future plans include adding to the underplanting with tulips, alliums and more seasonal colour. The roses themselves will be at their colourful best between June and August, with early signs of blooming appearing mid to late May.
With gates at either end and plenty of seating, the rose garden is set to be a hit with visitors this spring looking for tranquillity, or just to while away the hours among the scented ‘pops’ of powder pink.
Simon adds: “The restored rose garden would have historically been one of Emmetts Garden’s early summer highlights and we’re thrilled to have restored it to its original glory.
“It complements the rest of our seasonal colour beautifully – pink roses, delicate bluebells in our ancient woodland, a wildflower meadow, early flowering trees, rhododendrons and azaleas in full flower as well as lilies and fritillaries.”
Find out more
For more details about Emmetts Garden, visit: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/emmetts-garden. To discover more about beautiful spring and early summer colour, nature walks and events taking place in May at the National Trust in Kent and the South East of England, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/southeast.