Bringing back the Roses to Brockwood

South of the kitchen garden at Brockwood Park School lies the remnants of what was a formal Edwardian style rose garden. When the roses flourished and bloomed, their beautiful flowers and scent were enjoyed by many including Krishnamurti.

But where are the roses now? Apart from a few diehards they have all but gone. Suspicions lie in soil pathogens built up over many years getting the better of the old and weakened roses, or perhaps it was simply old age itself that took them, succumbing to impermanence as all things must.

Not to be perturbed! Brockwood’s garden team has taken up the challenge to bring back a total of 62 roses in the hope to see this formal area live up to its original name once again. We will have around nine different varieties of cultivars to plant, like ‘Twice in a Blue Moon’, ‘Just Joey’, ’Pompadour’ and ‘Bloom Of Ruth’ just to name but four, with colour, variety and scent range.

However, before we can begin there is one major certainty, you cannot simply plant new roses where old ones lay, without careful management or they’ll simply perish. It’s known as ‘Replant Disease’, which plants belonging to the Rosaceae family – particularly roses – can suffer from. Little is known about how the disease works: the general consensus being soil pathogens eat away at the roots and the conventional way to overcome this is to change as much soil as possible. In addition to this it is now claimed that by adding the amazing ‘mycorrhizal fungi’ around each rose, their root systems develop much faster enabling them to outgrow any harmful pathogens that maybe lying in the soil.

So here in our very own gardens this, as you can imagine, is a quite major undertaking which involves an estimated 14 tonnes of soil being removed and then replaced with a mix existing soil from an unused 20m veg bed (rebuilt in turn with some of the old rose soil) and newly acquired soil.

With the help of a mechanical digger, setting forth armed with tools and people power, pushing heavily laden wheelbarrows back and forth, occasionally crying out with positive zeal “we can do this!”, the garden team got stuck into the task with confident enthusiasm. Though a challenge it certainly is, we are excited at the prospect of the community and its visitors enjoying the sights and smells of a beautiful rose garden once again. Watch this space!

Our second renovation project in the Rose Garden is also worth a mention. Here we are replacing the old and rather awkward looking timber edging of the gravel paths with Victorian style bricks. This creates softer meandering curves and reflects the visual effect of the old brick walls that border the north side. These in turn, on their inner edges, will be lined with English Lavenders which when they reach a good size will create a traditional ‘lavender walk’ at each end of the garden.

Chris Cordrey

Head of Garden and Grounds



The gardening Team