The very last of the Rhododendron flowers are finishing – and the Camellias and fruit blossoms have long since faded – but there is still lots to look forward to in the Checkendon Woods and elsewhere, as Toby Greenbury explains.

The rambling roses are better and bigger than ever. The Rosae filipes Kiftsgate – the cultivar most associated with the wonderful garden at Kiftsgate Court in Gloucestershire – are threatening to overwhelm two of our stable buildings and are just coming into flower. The scent is overpowering. I can smell it more than a hundred yards away. There is nothing like it, if you have the nerve and the space. For a week or two or three it will dominate everything.

We’ve planted some in the Woods, as well as the beautiful Paul’s Himalayan Musk – a delicious pink, when first out – and Rambling Rector – no connection with our own Rev Kev – said to be one of the most romantic roses, with incredible scent, and which is now beginning to hang and drip from the Hollies they are growing up in great clouds of semi-double flowers.

These roses are all climbing through our Hollies in the same area in the Woods, smelling and looking wonderful. What are they going to be like in five years? Unimaginable.

Most people think of Cotoneasters as smallish horizontal shrubs. But they can be huge. We have two, which are more than thirty or forty feet tall and which are flowering right now. It’s a huge genus and I have no idea what varieties we have. They were planted long before we came to Checkendon. But they are magnificent.

People often think that Hydrangeas were originally named after the Greek or is it Latin for water – hydro. In fact, Hydrangeas were name by a botanist (Grovonius) in the 18th Century because he thought that their shape was reminiscent of an ancient water pitcher, combining “hydro” with “angeion – a barrel or pitcher. Well, whatever the true derivation of the name, Hydrangeas do need a lot of water. So hopefully we’ll get enough this Summer for our Hydrangeas to flower well and take us into the Autumn.

About the Author: If you are a regular visitor to Checkendon, you might have wondered who it is whizzing around on a quadbike, always busy. That’s Toby and who we have to thank for the beauty of the woodlands that are so much a part of Checkendon Equestrian Centre.

The Rambling Roses of Checkendon