Sensory delights at Cliveden as roses bloom once more

This summer visitors to Cliveden in Buckinghamshire will be able to enjoy a newly restored intimate garden planted with 42 different rose varieties whose colours mirror the rising and setting of the sun.

The new rose garden at Cliveden in Buckinghamshire. Credit Hannah Purcell

The new rose garden at Cliveden in Buckinghamshire. Credit Hannah Purcell

Designed by Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe, one of the 20th century’s greatest garden designers, in 1959, this new garden sits within 74 acres of formal gardens now cared for by the National Trust.   

Jellicoe was commissioned by the third Viscount Astor to design a new rose garden to provide his family with a place to enjoy, away from their busy public lives, that was somewhere organic and original.

Inspired by the abstract painter Paul Klee, Jellicoe sketched the layout the morning after their meeting. Lord Astor was immediately taken with the design and started laying out the new garden.

The reinstated garden has been carefully nurtured by Cliveden Head Gardener Andrew Mudge and his team of 12 gardeners and over 20 volunteers. They have created the circular garden, planted with over 900 repeat flowering roses, over the past six months.

Andrew said: “We spent a year researching and designing the new garden. Our aim was to capture Jellicoe’s concept for the garden as a vegetable form, like a cabbage, with each bed intended to envelop the visitor and draw them in towards the centre.

“We’re creating this effect by using roses of different heights. Tall roses almost five foot high will enclose beds planted with shorter varieties so as you walk into the garden the roses will appear to close around you.

“This should also mean that the scent of the roses will filter through at many different levels.

“If you combine this with the Jellicoe-inspired colour scheme of great swathes of colour moving from yellow and orange to velvety reds and deep crimsons, the result should be a truly sensory treat.

“The colour should sweep across the garden from the soft yellows of the early morning sun in the eastern beds to the bright oranges of the midday heat before finishing on the western side of the garden with the deep reds of the sunset.”  

Andrew Mudge, Head Gardener at Cliveden tends his new roses. Credit David Watson

Andrew Mudge, Head Gardener at Cliveden tends his new roses. Credit David Watson

The rose garden replaces what was known as the Secret Garden, when the space was planted with a herbaceous scheme of perennials, herbs and grasses.

The formal gardens at Cliveden have evolved over the course of 300 years with the current team focussing on restoring different layers of history to create a garden for the 21st Century visitor to discover and enjoy, rather than creating one that’s fixed in a period in time.

Andrew concludes: “Getting the balance right between creating a garden which will delight our visitors and reflect the history of the garden can be a challenge – but when you bring these two together, and the garden expresses a new aspect of the property’s history and evolution, it is extremely rewarding.”

The roses are expected to bloom from mid-June through to September.


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