Its the time of year when you hear Ella Fitzgerald’s extraordinarily haunting voice singing:

 ‘ Summertime and the livin’ is easy’

from Porgy and Bess.

And the summer garden is awash with flower, repaying all the hard work of the preceeding tough months.

So for something to stand head and shoulders above the crowd now it has to be quite extraordinary. Today it was this:

The Wickwar Rose was handed to us on a visit to Rosemary Verey. A friend of ours very distantly knew her. Then quite a grand old lady, she very kindly took us round Barnsley House Gardens. An experience in itself!

Her parting gift was The Wickwar Rose:


Gift I say, but I often now say ‘curse, more like!’

Though that is unkind.

I am, however, quite sure that, like Ellen Wilmott with her evil sprinkling of her spiny ‘Ghost’ Eryngium, La Verey knew The Wickwar for the undoubted thug it is!

Yes it has bounteous clusters of single white flowers that smell feintly of …..roses! Grey green foliage. Orange hips which are as plentiful as the flowers. It is robustly pest and disease resistant. But, it is viciously thorny and it grows like fury!

I am not expressly saying that there was a glint in her eye as she handed it over, but………….

Peter Beales reckons it grows to 1.5m wide. Excuse us!

Does this look like 1.5m? Mind you according to Roy Strong it swallows gardens alive.

We suspect the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Every four or five years it gets chopped back to a framework on a bright winter’s day.

And as you can see it adores it!

The subject of Rosemary Verey and the stories which surround this garden design legend often crop up while we do it!

Robert and Lesley