In the same family for over 50 years, the charming style of the garden is reminiscent of the English countryside, but with a Mediterranean flair. Originally from England, the current owner's mother began planting the garden in the 1960s and when I met her decades later, she shared with me some of her knowledge of gardening and antique roses.
Her garden was featured on the first Secret Garden Tour in 1999 and again in 2001 and the many varieties of old roses are special elements of the gardens. Predecessors of today's roses, antique roses have a much stronger perfume than modern roses and the fragrance of the old roses greets you at the garden gate and follows you throughout the garden.
Following are a few of the many different heritage roses that adorn the garden:
- Mme. Plantier: Tumbling over the front garden wall with its ruffled creamy white blossoms and sweet scent, Mme. Plantier is one of the many antique roses that welcomes you to the garden. A hearty Alba Rose that can also be trained as a climber, Mme. Plantier was cultivated in 1835, but the Alba Rose itself dates back to the Middle Ages and it was once known as the "tree rose."
- Blairii #2: Growing up an apple tree in the corner of the front yard, Blairii #2's stunning pink blossoms intermingle with a new crop of apples. A fragrant Bourbon Rose that was cultivated in 1845, Blairii #2 can climb to heights of 18 feet. A heavy bloomer at first, it will then produce fewer flowers as the season goes on, much like many antique varieties.
- New Dawn: Gracefully climbing up an arbor on the front of the home, New Dawn has pale pink blossoms that turn to almost white as they mature and are an artful contrast to the homes sunny yellow façade. While still considered an "old rose," this fragrant vigorous climber was cultivated in 1930 and will grow from 10 to 15 feet in height. It blooms more frequently than many of the older varieties.
- Souvenir de la Malmaison: Named after the Chateau de Malmaison, the former residence of Empress Josephine of France and in honor of her beautiful rose garden, this heavily fragrant ruffled Bourbon Rose was cultivated in 1843. The rose bush is not a vigorous grower and all its energy seems to go into its blush pink flowers that can measure 4 inches across.
- Cherokee (Rosa laevigala): Sprawling across a portion of fence on the north side of the home is the species rose, Cherokee. Introduced to the United States in the 1700s, it now grows wild all over North America. In 1916, the state of Georgia designated it as their state flower. Considered to be a "rambler" that can grow 15 to 30 feet long, its long vine-like canes are covered with fragrant white roses that have five single petals surrounding a large yellow center pistil.