Shop Manager Ros Roscoe, Head Gardener Kevin Martin and Garden Adviser John Hoyland first visited the trial beds of Harkness Roses in 2010 to begin the process of selecting a rose that would embody the spirit of Glyndebourne.The team were looking for a robust plant that was floriferous, long flowering and that had exuberant flowers.The aim was to find a rose that combined the look of an old-fashioned English rose with the vigour of a modern hybrid. It had to be able to flourish in a country-house garden and on a city patio. Oh, and it had to have a delicious perfume.
A few weeks afterwards they returned to the rose fields and finally chose three roses that fitted the bill. Bunches of each rose were presented to Lady Christie to make a final choice. The team had their own favourite but agreed not to tell anyone else. Happily Lady Christie immediately chose the rose that was also the selection team’s favourite.
Rosa ‘Glyndebourne’ is a modern shrub rose with flowers that resemble a traditional old-English variety. It is a vigorous, healthy plant that produces masses of roses from May to September. The flowers are sumptuous, full-petalled and with a soft, delicate fragrance. The plant breeders have recorded an average of 75 petals in each flower. It is a rose that they believe will have a wide appeal and become one of Britain’s premier roses.
Harkness Roses have been breeding roses for 130 years and Philip Harkness is the fourth generation of his family to breed roses. They use traditional methods of breeding, following the same practices that were used when the company began. There are no laboratory methods, just pollination by hand, and observing and selecting the best results. Their efforts are focussed on seeking better disease resistance, more perfume and more flowers over a longer period. They have bred lots of famous roses – such as ‘Jacqueline du Pre’, ‘Penny Lane’ (which is in the Crescent border), ‘Compassion’, ‘Amber Queen’ and ‘Chandos Beauty’.
A number of the new rose bushes were planted in the Terrace by both Lady Christie and Danielle de Niese and should be flowering towards the end of the Festival. The rose is available to buy now at Glyndebourne’s online shop.