Glyndebourne unveils Mary Christie Rose Garden

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Glyndebourne has unveiled a major new rose garden named in honour of Lady Christie in recognition of her enormous contribution to the Glyndebourne landscape. It is the biggest development to the gardens in over 20 years.

Lady Christie was married to Sir George Christie, Executive Chairman of Glyndebourne from 1959 to 1999, for more than fifty years until his death in 2014. Together they played a vital part in creating the Glyndebourne of today. Their son Gus Christie is the current Executive Chairman.

The Glyndebourne gardens are continually reassessed and rejuvenated but the Mary Christie Rose Garden is the first new garden to open to Glyndebourne audiences since 1994 when the grounds were remodelled during the building of a new state-of-the-art opera house; a process over which Lady Christie took creative control.

The garden will provide a permanent home for Rosa Glyndebourne, a bespoke new variety developed in 2012 by Harkness Roses as a signature plant for Glyndebourne. In addition, the 850 rose bushes include old fashioned shrub roses such as ‘Louise Odier’ and ‘Blanc Double de Coubert’ together with modern hybrids such as ‘Munstead Wood’ and ‘Princess Alexandra of Kent’. Each year in early spring the garden will be filled with tulips.

In creating the Mary Christie Rose Garden, Glyndebourne, an opera house famed for its high standards and attention to detail, drew on the expertise of its highly skilled staff. Two stone pugs, sculpted by Glyndebourne’s prop-makers in the mould of Lady Christie’s prized pet dog, play amongst the roses, and at night the gardens will be discretely illuminated with subdued lighting, created by its lighting team. Company members also joined in planting the roses.

The garden was designed by Glyndebourne’s garden adviser, John Hoyland, in consultation with Gus Christie and his wife Danielle de Niese, and Lady Christie offered her advice on the choice of roses.

John Hoyland, Glyndebourne’s garden adviser, said: “The new rose garden was two years in the planning and it’s wonderful to now see our vision come to life. The entire gardening team has enjoyed collaborating with people throughout the company on the project. I hope people will agree that it’s a fantastic addition to the landscape here as well as a fitting tribute to Lady Christie and I’m looking forward to seeing people’s reactions to it when the Festival opens in May.”

Gus Christie, Glyndebourne’s Executive Chairman, said: “Together my parents made Glyndebourne into what it is today. My mother was deeply involved in everything, but in particular the gardens, a vital part of the Glyndebourne experience, so naming this new rose garden in her honour is the perfect way to pay tribute to her incalculable contribution. It has been a true Glyndebourne production with many different departments contributing their skills in creating this garden”.

The new rose garden was funded by Glyndebourne members and friends of Lady Christie. It will be open to visitors of the 2015 Glyndebourne Festival which runs from 21 May until 30 August.