Peonies from heaven
PUBLISHED: 12:06 03 June 2014 | UPDATED: 12:06 03 June 2014
Rosedale at Bures on the Suffolk/Essex border is a garden full of rare and intriguing delights, as Jane Crowe discovers. Photographs by Clare Dawson
Wandering along the road from Bures towards Colchester you may be forgiven for passing by this gem of a garden. For the keen eyed plant collector though, there is a clue at the gate – a plant stall that cannot be ignored!
An array of choice offerings, beautifully labelled, temptingly priced and begging for a new home. This in itself is difficult to resist. But climb the path into the garden in front of the house and you start to realise just why this place has become a mecca for plant lovers throughout the county and beyond.
It is beautifully planted with rare and intriguing specimens, and the view of the River Stour meandering by is spectacular. If you come at the right time of the year the first of the home raised tree peonias, the crimson Marchioness will greet you and give you a foretaste of things to come.
Make your way past the house and the gentle uphill slope reveals a garden of wondrous complexity. There is an almost tropical feel to the place as you pass the densely stacked hostas standing guard alongside the impressive fern Osmunda Regalis.
Small ‘rooms’ open up, densely planted with an abundance of different specimens. Great care has been taken to ensure that the right conditions are provided for each species, there is a meticulous attention to detail. For example, the Alpine troughs are prepared with different layers of grit and shingle to ensure really good drainage. These little plants can survive very low temperatures but cannot tolerate being waterlogged.
Here are specimen trees like Prunus Serrula and Betula Jacquemontii, their trunks gently washed and rubbed in the spring to reveal the rich golden brown and silvery whiteness of their trunks. The overwhelming glories though in summer time are the peonies. Huge shrubby trees and smaller herbaceous varieties are everywhere. There is even a peony hedge along the lane outside the back gate – the marvel is that they are all home grown!
Colin and Ruth Lorking, the tireless owners of this intriguing place are consummate plantsmen. They have built this garden completely from scratch, starting from the far end by the back gate, transporting plants piece by piece from their previous garden nearby. Gradually working their way down towards the house, they constructed the terraces, built a pond, installed the green house, the potting shed and even a nicely camouflaged chicken house. The garden grew and evolved to meet their needs and the ever expanding demands of their collections.
They belong to many specialist societies including Alpines, hardy plants, peonies, The Conservation Group and of course the Royal Horticultural Society. From these specialist sources they can obtain rare seeds to propagate, nurture and thus conserve for the future.
Everywhere you look the garden bears witness to their skill, and the more you look, the more you appreciate what is going on. There are stores of seedlings, cuttings and plants in every nook and cranny, all awaiting a place in the garden or to be sold at one of their open days.
For the past 21 years Colin and Ruth have opened Rosedale several times a year as part of the National Gardens Scheme, (the famous Yellow Book) as well as for the Bures open gardens weekend at the end of May. They provide splendid home made teas and of course the plant stalls. It is well worth a visit!
Open days July 13, August 3
Opening times 12noon-5pm. Admission £3.