The original rose garden was built in 1954 to commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth 11 and remains of considerable significance to local people. Townspeople were consulted as part of the refurbishment programme and voted for the Rose garden to be re-planted. The elliptical enclosure and walls and paving crafted from attractive local stone forms a valuable heritage asset, and a fitting structure surrounding the newly planted heritage roses. New seating has been introduced for visitors who wish to enjoy the peace and quiet of the garden.
Over the years, however, the clay base became compacted and this caused problems for the roses as many of you will have seen last year.
Over the winter of 2014/2015 the site was drained, but replanting the garden with roses was problematic due to a condition known as ‘rose sickness’. Roses will not tolerate being planted in earth previously occupied by other roses due to a build up of soil pests and pathogens.
This led to a complete rethink of the garden. Silloth Town Council decided to bring the garden into the 21st century and address pressing concerns over the welfare of our bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects, while at the same time preserving the history of the site.
The garden has now been entirely replanted with bee and butterfly friendly plants, including 40 roses which will attract bees and withstand the wind blowing off the sea where the garden is exposed at the Arcade end.
Rose hedges divide the garden into four sections: garden plants for bees facing the sea, wild flowers for bees facing the Arcade, butterfly plants facing the Green, and a decorative veg plot around hazel wigwams with a double row of dahlias.
The roses have been planted in cardboard boxes using fresh soil, as this is the best method of dealing with ‘rose sickness’. By the time the cardboard disintegrates, the old soil will be fine for the rose roots to grow in.
In the middle of the garden is our Bee Hotel, a replica of the Victorian Pagoda at the top of the wooded hill above the Splash Pad, built by the Silloth Green maintenance team. The sunny side facing the Green will be dedicated to nesting sites for solitary bees, the other three sides will serve as winter hibernation and shelter for all the insects which we hope will visit our garden.
Work is still on going, but we will have the Bee Hotel up and running, and all the plants labelled as soon as possible. Interpretation panels with more detail about the garden, the types of bees and butterflies it is planted for, and info on the life cycle of bumblebees, honeybees and solitary bees, will be erected later in the summer.
The annuals were all raised locally from seed, the perennials were either divided from larger plants in local gardens or bought from the Garden House Nursery in Dalston, and Larch Cottage Nurseries in Melkinthorpe. The dahlias were supplied by JRG Dahlias in Milnthorpe, south Cumbria.
We hope there will be ideas here that you can take home with you, knowing that these plants were raised in Cumbria, and will cope with our weather!