The Derelict Rose Garden

Last week we looked at some of the original garden plans for the Hopwood Garden. Gardens are a forgotten history today, very rarely do such maps exist of the garden you have inherited; at Pig Row we were fortunate to see an aerial shot of our garden in the early 1980s. Nearly two thirds of it was wild by then and a large shed gave way to a 1950s style garden, concrete paths, tight borders packed with flowers and heathers, an echo of a rock garden from the aeroplane camera lense but no maps. No way to see the planning, the tastes, the styles or the plants that were there. No plant list. The map we received showed some of this and later on this year we will meet someone who lived there in the days when the Hopwoods were still present at the hall. We have targeted two areas in the garden.

gardening, rose gardens, life on pig row

The red circle encompasses the old rose garden, the blue is the Italian gardens; we'll do them later, and see what is left beyond the brook. Today, we started to explore the rose garden, this is the rose garden this morning...

gardening, life on pig row

There are some roses still in the borders but we don't know what they are, it may be a case of potting these up and seeing what happens. We will take cuttings from them but the roses may be too far gone. There are no signs of a path, a water fountain or even the edges of the borders. The rose garden is brimming with willow, ash and birch trees - the good thing is that the bigger birch trees are destined for wood burners and the smaller trees have a use. That's why we are there today, bow saws in hand, to cut our own canes and see if anything is left of the rose garden. This morning we plan to clear about a third of the trees and find any hard structures left. It's doubtful after all this time that there is any of the hard surfaces left. Then during mid-morning we have cleared a way into the main part of this copse and discover something rather wonderful, hid beneath moss, leafmould and leaves. Something that clangs against the edge of a shovel when it is dug in, something hard. We dig in, scooping away decades of leaf fall...

gardening, rose garden, hopwood

...a stiff brush follows and there is the stone pathway, hidden for a long time beneath leaf litter and cans discarded. The past, the map, just lurking beneath the surface. We now head into the copse, dropping tree after tree, scooping away the soil, brushing off the stone. There are still roses snarling us as we pass, as we drag out small trees for cutting into canes, clearing foot by foot of the old path until it starts to expand and become circular. We have come to the base of the old fountain, seen above in the distance. Here is the fountain, a single willow tree growing from it's centre and another day we will clear the trees around it and in it. We don't know what the fountain looks like but we have found the pond beneath it. 

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