Back at Garlington

Jackie Kalley owner/editor at Otterley Press,
Jackie Kalley owner/editor at Otterley Press,

Jackie Kalley, recent recipient of the Zoë Gilbert Award for outstanding service to world of roses, gives her eloquent and often humorous account of the development of the Garlington Heritage Rose garden.  Follow her blogs over the next few months to stay in touch with the progress of this incredible project to conserve the old roses of the KZN Midlands. You can join in the fun by contacting Gail Birss (see the Midlands Rose Society Page) or contact us via



20170704_100319_resized (002)The Bobcat smudged the borders of our carefully calculated beds so tape measures at the ready, we met on site. The real allure of the morning was the prospect of a  vision coming to fruition. The arches and their side struts were piled in the centre of the garden – an innocuous pile of metal with the potential to transform the garden. We sorted out the paths into the garden (once again!) while Gill and Gail talked earnestly on the tactics of arch construction; there was more measuring and with the capable help of Voyo, holes were dug, the side struts erected and suddenly nuts and bolts were called for and the arch was fixed in place.


No concrete was used as roses don’t care for concrete. Excitingly our entrance tunnel of six arches followed the master plan; the side arches went up quickly as our tactics were by now perfected but the three-arched exit caused consternation. The two  entrance/exit gates were not identically opposite each other ! In fact there was a 90 cm difference made all the more acute as the centre of the gate was then not the centre of the arch and the long run of string from one gate to the other revealed just how badly out of sync it was. Eventually we decided the arches had to be exactly opposite each other and to call in the fencing firm to move the gate…  otherwise they would have been forever out of kilter and spoilt the whole design. The bad gremlin continued to wreak havoc.

The ground on that side was so hard  the bottom horizontal on the strut was bent ; Gail was wheezing from her bout of flu and shouldn’t have been there at all so we gazed in awe at our twelve arches standing proud and left the last three in the dust for next time.

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Ludwig’s driver (from Ludwig’s Roses – one of our sponsors) offloaded a treasure trove of roses,  now in safe custody until we can plant them but we can’t do that until the irrigation pipes have been installed. When will that be? Why is one thing always contingent on yet another??