Virtual Tour of Fern Lodge Rose Garden (2011)

This rose garden is meticulously taken care of by our own Ken Gourley, who will be sharing some of his insights into the roses seen here. In this picture (above), the prominent pink rose in full bloom just to the left of the large patch of white Dutch Iris is the “Strawberry Hill” rose.   The softer pink rose on the bottom right of the photo (just above the purple bearded Iris) is “Scepter’d Isle”….

Charlotte. Of all of the yellow roses I’ve brought indoors for the patients to enjoy, I get more people asking me questions about this rose than any other!

David Austin, the brilliant hybridizer of his “English” variety of roses, had a vision a long time ago of bringing back the graceful forms and delicious fragrances of the old heritage roses;  yet modernizing them to include both a greater color range as well as better repeat-bloom ability.   “Charlotte”, having David Austin’s ground-breaking famous yellow rose, “Graham Thomas” as one of her parents, is the delicately-colored younger beauty that is indeed something to rave about!   With its soft floral Tea fragrance and ability to melt hearts as it unfolds its many petals, this rose can cure a rose-hater better than any other I know!

Scepter’ed Isle. Here’s a good example not only of how beautiful the soft pink Scepter’ed Isle rose is;  but also of how nice it looks with other garden plants of grace and beauty — in this case, the tall white Dutch Iris behind, and the gorgeous purple Bearded Iris in front!   I’m so grateful that when I first got the OK to plant roses inside the deer fenced area, the garden already came with both Dutch and Bearded Iris already planted there, thanks to George who did that many years ago!!

Besides the Iris, there are two other companion plants near these roses:  Erigeron (AKA “Santa Barbara Daisy”) to the left;  and also the soft lavender-blue spikes of Nepeta (AKA “Catmint”) to the right…

Other classic Rose companions include:  Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), Lavender, Rosemary, and Clematis (to name just a few) — all of which we have here in the Fern Lodge garden…   Hey, everybody could use a companion or two!

William Shakespeare 2000. I didn’t originally plan on planting any red roses at Fern Lodge;  but once people found out I was planting the thorny creatures here, requests started coming in for them…  which explains why in the 2nd year I tried to cram as many as I could against the South-side deer fence, facing the building.

Last year, even though no “official” vote was ever taken, the favorite red Fern Lodge rose seems to be this one — with a toss-up close second place going to either the long-time red Hybrid Tea rose, “Mr. Lincoln’;  or to the petite wine-red “Tradescant” spray rose…   In any case, as if on cue, William Shakespeare was the first red rose to bloom this year!

Golden Celebration. I was first introduced to this rose in ’97, when I met my friend and eventual landscaping boss, Chip Lima, who planted this rose in almost every garden that he designed and installed in San Francisco.   With a Master’s degree in Landscape Design and Plant Pathology, he actually HATED most roses because so many can require a lot of fussing — except for a sparse few self-sufficient healthy varieties that he approved of, this one being definitely one of his all-time favorites.   I fell in love with this rose so much myself that I not only planted one in a huge pot on my own deck;  but also planted three at my sister-in-law’s garden in Burlingame.  Besides the almost eye-blinking golden yellow color, as well as incredibly lush green healthy foliage, the delicious honey & lemon fragrance I find to be the icing on my rose cake…   In other words:  I have a long and happy history with this rose — and I hope that Fern Lodge falls in love with it as much as I did, too!!

Mme. Cecile Brunner (Sweetheart rose). This is the famous old Polyantha rose, “Mme. Cecile Brunner” (pronounced, “Ce-CEEL”), which dates back to around 1850.   Although it wasn’t planted at F. L. quite that long ago (LOL), it is a true “survivor!”   There are actually two plants of this rose, both outside of the TV Living room, completely unprotected from hungry munching deer — as well as completely drought-tolerant now, because nobody ever waters them…   The deer “prune” the lower portion;  while [thank goodness] we get to see the blooms of the upper portion, beyond their reach.

If anybody at Fern Lodge knows more history about these roses than I just stated above, I’d love to know!   I can tell you all about the roses INSIDE the deer fence, because starting in Feb. of ’08, I planted every one of ’em!   But, whoever planted this commonly called, “Sweetheart rose”, I’d like to say a big thank you to them!

Deer’s Eye View: Here’s one of the vantage points the deer get to see of their favorite food…   No, they don’t like the purple Echium!

Lady Emma Hamilton. At the other end of the deer fenced garden, mid-level above the far West retaining wall, is an even more brilliantly-hued apricot / tangerine colored rose named, “Lady Emma Hamilton” — which has an equally strong fruity fragrance to match!!   In this pic, Lady Hamilton is just beginning to open.   The magenta blooms of the hardy “Geranium Icanum”, as well as the silvery foliage of Lamb Ears, create a nice “subtle” color theme, don’t you think?



Graham Thomas. Recently voted, “The World’s Favorite Rose” by the 41 National Rose Societies, and also given the prestigious James Mason award in 2000, this brilliant gorgeous shrub rose first came on the scene at the UK’s Chelsea Flower show in the spring of 1983 — and has melted hearts & minds ever since!   With a wonderful spicy tea fragrance, and its usual tendency to bloom in large cheerful clusters, next to any purple nor violet/blue flowers, this sunshine yellow rose is an unforgettable sight!   This is the first Graham Thomas rose bloom to open up and be photographed for this year — and conveniently planted nearby, smack-dab in the extreme NW corner of the deer fence, is a baby violet-colored Hardenbergia vine, called “Happy Wanderer”…

This rose also happens to be a very historic rose, in that it was one of hybridizer David Austin’s first successful new rose varieties which he introduced to the world as, “English roses”;  but which most of the gardening world calls, “David Austin roses”…   No matter:  call it whatever you like — the important thing to know is that he had a vision of bringing back the old-fashioned Heritage roses’ graceful forms and fragrances, but crossing them with the best of the modern Hybrid Tea and Floribunda roses, giving to the public, “the best of both rose worlds” — and if this rose is any example of his vision, what a joy it is to have them in our garden at Fern Lodge!!

Although currently our 3 Graham Thomas rose plants are all quite modest in size (as well as the little Hardenbergia vine that was planted just this past Feb.), eventually, both the rose & the vine will grow quite tall over time.   In the meantime, however…   I will be happily “nursing” these two garden friends along, until they get well-established in our garden, and big enough (and drought-tolerant enough) to eventually fend for themselves.

Gertrude Jekyll. I first became acquainted with this rose by growing a plant of it in a large pot on my sunny South-facing SF deck, in ’97.   I really don’t like its strong bubble-gum pink color;  but every time I took a whiff of its powerful perfume (which has actually been used in the perfume industry, as it is of very high quality and well-balanced in its fragrance components), I would not only forgive Gertrude;  but gradually fell more and more in love with her.

If you look closely at the top bloom, you’ll notice the rear end of a sleeping bumblebee.   Since this pic was taken by me in the early morning, my guess is that he settled into Gertrude’s petals for the night as the previous evening started to get cold — and perhaps even got a little intoxicated with her delicious perfume as much as I occasionally do (LOL)!!

Tea Clipper. When this rose was first planted at Fern Lodge in Feb. of ’08, I had no prior experience with having grown it or even seen it anywhere before — it was one of those roses that I took an educated risk on, having mostly only the David Austin rose catalogue’s description and photo to go by…

Well, the good news is:  this rose has definitely become one of the all-time Fern Lodge favorites!   Very tall-growing (you can probably guess that by the towering redwood trees in the background – LOL), besides having a stunning apricot-peachy color, it has a delicious fruit & myrrh fragrance to match!!   But one of the qualities that I enjoy the most out of this rose is its casual & rather whimsical way of opening its petals…   And with its lush, healthy green foliage — as well as being a fairly long-lasting cut flower — this rose has become a joy to have around in every way….   Just give it a little extra vertical space to stretch upward — and come to think of it, a little extra horizontal space to expand outward, too!!


Trellis View. Looking through the green metal trellis where purple Clematis will soon be growing, you can see some yellow roses blooming beyond…   This is the view from inside the deer fence of the far NW corner of the Fern Lodge rose garden, a section of the garden dedicated to yellow and apricot-colored roses.   Some of the rose varieties found in or near this area include the following:  Climbing Royal Sunset;  Sally Holmes;  Pat Austin;  Graham Thomas;  Golden Celebration, Teasing Georgia, Charlotte, and Malvern Hills — to name just a few….

Thanks for taking our virtual rose garden tour.  We will add additional blooms later in the season.

4 Responses to Virtual Tour of Fern Lodge Rose Garden (2011)

  1. avatar Ken Gourley says:

    Thanks so much for posting these rose pics, Brian — how fun!! I’ll be happy to send you some more pics of the rose garden as the season continues to progress, and more additional varieties come into bloom… I like your selection and editing, and your choices for which pics to keep large and which ones to make a bit smaller — excellent job, my friend, thank you!!

    – Ken

  2. avatar Jan says:

    Ken, it’s always marvelous to see you leave your talented touch on every garden you come to cherish. Thank you for continuing to share your love of flowers and fragrance. Well done!

  3. avatar Anna Lisa says:

    Beautiful job, Ken!

    I do have some info for you on the “Cecile Brunner” roses at the back. They were planted by my mother Blanche Darnell when she landscaped the whole (new, then) side and back yards created by the new wing. She also was not a fan of roses. But the one pruned by deer actually is a variety called Blanche, so she decided to put it there as a sort of signature. It has a slightly whiter color and headier fragrance than the Brunners. The other is probably a Cecile Brunner, which she felt was tough enough to survive there.

    Lovely garden, Ken!

  4. avatar Ken Gourley says:

    Thanks for the kind reply, Jan! And I much appreciate your reply, Anna Lisa, as a garden’s history is so easy to have it fade away over the years — I figured that you might be the one to know more information about that rose, and when it was planted!

    Thanks again, BOTH of you!!

    – Ken

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