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Seven Stars of Red Cow Farm

Ali Mentesh chose some roses that stand out at Red Cow Farm for their colour, perfume or habit.

Here is his top seven

Words and photos: Ali Mentesh


‘Souvenir d’un ami’

This rose should be much better known than it is. A vigorous tall grower, like many of the old tea roses the perfume can vary, depending on the time of the day and the age of the flower. Sometimes it has a very strong dry tea scent, and at others, it is sweet, with orange and lemon, passionfruit and peach overtones.


‘Jude the Obscure’

This exceptionally fragrant David Austin rose is planted on a corner in the Abbess Garden, which is a sunken garden. The fragrance really becomes trapped there. It’s beautifully complex, with guava, passionfruit, and dessert wine undertones. It flowers continuously for us, and we’ve planted about seven of them, to form a substantial shrub that gives a big effect in the garden.


‘Charles Darwin’

This David Austin rose can be a low climber if you encourage it but we grow it in a group of five to make a big shrub. The flowers are an unconventional tone of light yellow to mustard. This is one of the biggest-flowers of the David Austin roses, it repeats really well, and has a lovely fresh perfume.


‘Rambling Rector’

Planted in a semi-wild part of the garden, this one clambers along the ground and is allowed to climb up into the cherry laurel hedge and form a kind of tunnel entrance to this part of the garden. It can grow 25-30 feet in a season, and flowers with masses of single, white perfumed flowers that are followed by hips.


‘Tea clipper’

This is another David Austin rose that has been performing beautifully, with the most fantastic apricot flowers. It’s very double, with lots of petals but opens up so it’s almost lying flat. The fragrance is a mix of tea, myrrh and fruit. I have a few of them in the garden and they are all growing very strongly.


‘Apple blossom’

This rose is very good for covering sheds and climbing over walls, which it does very effectively and very quickly. The flowers are like apple blossoms, but with a bit more pink, and it has one very long flowering season. There’s a lovely soft feel to the whole plant when it’s in flower.


‘William Shakespeare 2000’

This is such a good rose, with a very deep crimson colour. I have three or four bushes together to make a substantial shrub, with Macleaya cordata behind it. The beautiful blue-grey of the foliage makes a great backdrop for many plants, and I especially like this combination. It’s very sophisticated - which I don’t always do!


Caring for Rose care at Red Cow Farm


We mulch the whole property every year in winter when the soil is moist. We normally use mushroom compost on everything, except for the roses that are only in their first season.



Mulching helps get the roses going in the spring before the first feed in September. We generally fertilise the roses twice a year, in September and then in late-January or thereabouts, depending on the weather. We use organic fertiliser, either Sudden Impact for Roses or Organic Life. If we get good rainfall, I might give them another feed between spring and summer to push them along a bit.



The once-flowering roses are pruned soon after they finish. We start pruning the repeat flowering roses as early as June, and go until September, with August the busiest time.

The tea roses aren’t pruned, just tidied. We let them form their natural shape and give them the space they need. Pruning is minimal on the climbers with strong canes too, as we want them to become substantial shrubs.



There’s lots of deadheading to do, except for the rugosas which are left alone to produce hips following the flowers, and the tea roses, which drop their flowers. I take quite a bit of stem when I deadhead.


'Meg'. Photo - Robin Powell



The watering program depends on the weather and I’m hands-on to make sure they receive enough water weekly to get on. Tea roses, for instance, will flower for 10 months for us, and handle the heat, but only if they have enough moisture. Otherwise the heat of summer sends them into dormancy.



Our location means we don’t have to spray the roses at all.

Red Cow Farm opens from late September every day until May. Check the website for details,


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Author: Ali Mentesh