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a life in architecture david austin

'Roses are so untidy, all over the shop. It's part of their charm but it means that they need a very severe framework to grow in, 'says rose grower David Austin, whose own garden in Wolverhampton is loosely modelled on the garden created by Vita Sackville-West at Sissinghurst in Kent.

'I once went there when I was in my 20s and met the great lady.We walked around and she talked at length and Harold Nicholson walked behind us like a sort of naughty boy.He got so tired in the end that he said, 'Well, I think I'll go and do some weeding.'' As at Sissinghurst, David Austin's roses are cultivated in garden 'rooms' separated by yew and box hedges.

He mentions his own house briefly, 'a beautifully proportioned William and Mary front but the back is appalling, the worst type of Victorian architecture'. Then it's back to gardens.Powys Castle in north Wales is another favourite.

The castle sits at the top of a hill while the actual gardens cascade down a cliff-like slope in front of it, in a series of steps or terraces, each one with its own herbaceous border against a retaining wall. At the bottom of the slope, the terraces open out into a large, flat grassed area. 'Rather Italianate and very effective, 'says the man who has done so much to make a wide range of old-fashioned and species roses readily available to amateur gardeners in the UK and abroad.

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