A great rose and a great woman: Ellen Willmott

I mentioned single Hybrid Tea roses a while ago but missed out one of those in the garden because it was not in bloom. It is now flowering abundantly so needs attention. ‘Ellen Willmott’ is a beautiful rose, bred by William Archer & Daughter (nice touch there) in the UK in 1935. It is a rather upright rose that can grow to about 1.2m and has healthy foliage on purple stems. The flowers are creamy white with a pink edge and the petals are prettily scalloped. The red stamens are a lovely feature and it has a pleasant scent. It is a decidedly feminine rose that combines good garden appeal with the delicate beauty of the individual flowers.

It is a hybrid of the (previously mentioned) single pink ‘Dainty Bess’ and the beautiful apricot, double ‘Lady Hillingdon’, which is another rose that I must add to the collection.

It is named after the remarkable woman who created (and owned) the fabulous garden, now derelict, at Warley Place in Essex as well as two others in Europe. She was profligate in her spending on the gardens, using her immense inheritance to indulge her love of gardening but died alone and penniless. She is remembered by this rose and the beautiful Rosa willmottiae but mostly by Eryngium giganteum, commonly called Miss Willmott’s ghost after the way she sprinkled seeds of it when she visited other gardens.

I have a particular interest in her because of her links to E A Bowles, the garden of whom I worked in to begin the restoration. Allegedly he thwarted her amorous advances and she took it badly, causing a vengeful storm in the horticultural world the likes of which have not been seen since. When I get more time I will go into detail!

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5 Comments on “A great rose and a great woman: Ellen Willmott”

  1. Chloris
    August 30, 2019 at 8:29 am #

    I have a really interesting biography:’ Miss Willmott of Warley Place: Her life and her gardens’, by Audrey Le Lievre, it’s well worth reading.

    • thebikinggardener
      August 30, 2019 at 7:32 pm #

      I thought I had that too. But having finally unpacked the books I don’t think I do. But I remember it so I must have read it or something at some time 🙂

      • Kathy Larson
        August 31, 2019 at 12:46 am #

        I remember reading that Reginald Farrer was part of that storm,too.Since I thoroughly enjoy the writings of those two men-I’m on their side!

        • thebikinggardener
          August 31, 2019 at 8:46 am #

          Yes he was. In fact it was him that started it. I will follow this up.

  2. digwithdorris
    September 1, 2019 at 5:14 pm #

    Detail awaited!!

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