It is always exciting to open the door and go out into the garden for the first time on any day…..


The garden continues to flourish with an array of wonderful roses out in bloom. It is heartening to see the splashes of colour as the temperatures turn cold and the skies grey, and all are a welcome treat. Some roses appear to enjoy the more northern hemisphere climate of the past week: drizzling rain, chilly mornings and nights, but thankfully, some sunny days.

One such Rose is Eliza, a florist rose Hybrid Tea from Germany bred by Wilhelm Kordes 111 before 1994 in the Freelander® Collection-KORlis. Eliza features large classically-shaped double flowers that open into a looser bloom in a stunning mid-pink to silver-pink with a subtle scent reminiscent of wild roses. Generally, Eliza is a disease resistant rose that grows strong, tall and upright, although, at present, it has a few black spots as the season winds down.

Eliza was one of the first roses planted against the fence to grow above the perennials and was part of a cut flower collection I purchased from Treloar Roses in 2016. The blooms are mostly on long stems of 3-5 together and sit regally on the dark green glossy foliage- always indicating health and vigour.

I knew nothing at all of gardening; never did anyone know less.’

Marion Cran

The quoted words above and in the title are from Marion Cran, who you may or may not have heard of before, so let me introduce you. Marion Dudley Cran was the first female gardening broadcaster in the UK and a successful garden writer in the early part of the 20th Century. Marion was born in South Africa in 1875 and was the daughter of a missionary, and lived most of her life in England from 1910 until she died in 1941.

The charming roses pictured here and throughout the paragraphs on Marion Cran are the Tangles rose – KORtangwal. A low-growing rose bush that covers itself in soft pastel lilac or mauve blooms until late in the season. Since planting Tangles only last year, it has quadrupled in size, is fully covered in clusters of flowers in May, and shows no signs of slowing down. Tangles Rose was awarded the Bronze Medal at Adelaide’s 2019 Australian Rose Trial Garden Awards.

Marion Cran wrote her first garden book from her home ‘Steephill’ which she called ‘The Garden of Ignorance’, but the subtitle of her book was ‘The Experiences of a Woman in a Garden’, London: Herbert Jenkins Ltd., 1913. The book describes her journey from ignorance of plants, soil types and manures, planting aspects and pruning regimes to hands-on expertise and wild enthusiasm. I think many of us would-be gardeners can relate to this.

.. if I wanted to have a happy garden, I must ally myself with my soil; study and help it to the utmost, untiringly. …. Always, the soil must come first.

Marion Cran

‘Coggers’ was a 14th Century abandoned house that was to become her refuge and base from which to travel and write. She documented her home and garden experiences in ‘Coggers’ and ‘Steephill’ in Surrey and Kent with her popular books published between 1913 and 1941. The subject of her second book was the restoration of the house and the end of her marriage, entitled ‘The Story of My Ruin’, published in 1924.

Marion’s love of travel gave her experiences of gardens abroad and her own homes, culminating in fifteen gardening books, a couple of novels, and other publications. Her radio talks on gardening began in 1923, just one year after the BBC was founded. Along with other garden writers and broadcasters, Vita Sackville-West, Beverley Nichols and Compton Mackenzie, her book of these talks was called How Does Your Garden Grow? and it was published in 1935.

The warm, informal style Marion portrayed made her popular with listeners, and she was never patronising, always speaking as “a learner talking to fellow learners”. Marion was often described as a poet, a dreamer, and an observer. With a lyrical style that transported her listeners to the verdant countryside and beautiful outdoor spaces, which she would effusively discuss.

Tangles- a roseisarose

We have ranged the days, from dawn to dusk, and the seasons through and back again and discussed how to make cuttings … how to make paths and little formal town-gardens … and have talked of roses … wild flowers and birds’….

Up until 1930, Marion Cran was editor of The Queen magazine and also contributed to many magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, Good Housekeeping, House and Garden, Homes and Gardens,  as well as The Bystander, The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, The Star, and The Standard newspapers. Her works included:

  • How Does Your Garden Grow?
  • The Garden Of Innocence
  • Gardens of Character
  • Gardens in America
  • Garden wisdom: From the writings of Marion Cran 
  • The squabbling garden 
  • Bedside Marion Cran, from the writings of Marion Cran
  • The story of my ruin 
  • Garden talks,
  • Garden Wisdom 
  • The Garden of Experience 
  • The Joy of the Ground 
  • A woman in Canada 
  • The Gardens of Good Hope 
  • I Know a Garden 
  • The squabbling garden 

Perhaps this brief introduction to a fascinating and accomplished gardener and writer has sown the seeds of interest for you. Further reading can be found here in a thesis by Cynthia Boyd about Marion Cran.

I look back with gladness to the day when I found the path to the land of heart’s desire, and thank Fate ceaselessly with a loud voice that she did not permit the town to sap all the years away while the heart was turning to wind-voices and flower-faces and the hands of kindly earth.

Marion Cran

The apricot cream roses here are Shirley’s roses, another variety that enjoys the Autumn climate. The colours are divine, so soft and romantic. Shirley Rose is happily growing right up against the fence and, like the Eliza rose, is another original first garden rose. After a nasty scratch and bruise from her prickles, I keep a safe distance from this one, so I don’t have many photographs.

Shirley’s Rose has lovely peach to apricot-coloured blooms with ivory outer petals on a modern shrub rose, complete with an outstanding fragrance. Bred by Bruce Brundrett before 2012 and introduced by Wagner’s Rose Nursery in South Australia. The Shirley’s Rose is strong and vigorous and appears like an old-world rose that will grow to about 150 cm tall. The blooms are on long stems and stay well when cut for a vase. In the seven years in the garden, Shirley’s Rose has never had any issues with a disease of any sort and is always healthy and stable.

My Yellow Rose- Bruce Brundrett

The Australian rose breeder Bruce Brundrett who passed away on 11th November 2022, will be remembered as one of Australia’s most successful rose breeders. Many beautiful roses form the legacy of Bruce’s lifetime work with roses. I’ve found in the garden that we have several of Bruce’s roses; Jessica’s Rose, Shirley’s Rose, My Yellow, The Opportunity Rose, The Jubilee Rose, and Miss Unique. Bruce’s Dream, Australian Beauty will be added to the garden this season in winter as New Release bare root roses. So I am looking forward to their arrival.

All content Di Baker 2023

All images Di Baker 2023 in the rose garden

Title quote by Marion Cran

The Tangles Rose is dedicated to The Southern Right Whale. A $2 portion of the sale of Tangles is donated to the SWIFFT organisation to support the cataloguing and analysis of photographs used in critical research. For further information, visit the SWIFFT website.

The Southern Right Whale is Australia’s only inshore large whale species and was almost hunted to extinction. The south-eastern Australian population remains very low (250 -300 animals). This project is fundamental to gaining an understanding of the species ecology and population trends in south-eastern Australia.

SWIFFT -State Wide Integrated Flora and Fauna Teams

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