Sir Winston Churchill Border

In 2010 the College arranged for a special rose to be bred as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations. Named Rosa ‘The Churchill Rose’, it is now available for purchase from the rose grower, Peter Beales. It is a lovely rose with apricot flowers and a delicate scent.

The rose can be found in the gardens of 10 Downing Street, Chartwell House and Cambridge Botanic Garden but the College wanted to find a place to grow it on site so that its story could be retained. This led to the creation of the Sir Winston Churchill border in the Master’s and Fellows’ garden, which provided an opportunity to research and grow all of the plants named after Sir Winston Churchill. There are 27 named varieties and the College currently grows 15 of them – the search for the rest continues.

Varieties within the border include the following:

  • Rosa ‘The Churchill Rose’ (Bred 2010)
  • Rosa ‘Sir Winston Churchill’ (Bred 1955)
  • Dahlia ‘Winston Churchill’
  • Fuchsia ‘Winston Churchill’
  • Hermerocallis ‘Winston Churchill’
  • Hyacinthus orientalis ‘Churchill’
  • Malus ‘Winston’
  • Pelargonium ‘Winston Churchill’
  • Saxifraga ‘Winston Churchill’
  • Saxifraga ‘Winston Churchill Variegata’
  • Symphyotrichum novi-belgii ‘Winston Churchill’
  • Narcissus ‘Winston Churchill’
  • Lathyrus odoratus Winston Churchill (sweet pea)
  • Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Winston Churchill’
  • Rhododendron ‘Winston Churchill’ Azalea mollis

Varieties we are hoping to add:

  • Camellia Japonica ‘Winston Churchill’
  • Dendrobium ‘Churchill’
  • Dianthus ‘Winston Churchill’
  • Geranium x oxonianum ‘Winston Churchill’
  • Lilium ‘Winston Churchill’
  • Nymphaea ‘Winston Churchill’
  • Paeonia lactiflora ‘Winston Churchill’
  • Paphiopedilum ‘Winston Churchill’
  • Saxifraga ‘Winston Churchill Alba’
  • Gladiolus ‘Winston Churchill’
  • Cattleya ‘Sir Winston Churchill’
  • Iris ‘Winston Churchill’

In 1955 Sir Winston Churchill had a rose named after him, Rosa ‘Sir Winston Churchill’, which is no longer commercially available. While investigating possible plants for the new border the College’s Head of Grounds & Gardens, John Moore, discovered that the ‘Sir Winston Churchill’ rose was bred by Alexander Dickson III in 1955 at Dickson Nurseries and that the rose was sold through Harkness Nursery. Records from ‘Modern Roses’ indicate that it was a Hybrid Tea rose of salmon pink shaded orange with 48 petals and blooms measuring 5” across. The parents were ‘Unnamed seedling x Souv. de Denier van der Gon’. The rose went on to receive a Gold Medal from the then National Rose Society (Dickson. C. 2011. E-mail (Grandson of Alexander Dickson III)).


The challenge was then on to see if the rose could be found growing in a collection. It was not listed as growing in Great Britain so the search went worldwide and three places were identified in Hungary, America and Australia. John Moore was fortunate to be put in contact with Pat Toolan in Australia who had a particular interest in this rose as she received a Churchill Fellowship in 2002 to travel overseas to study the preservation and conservation techniques and strategies of old roses and plants in cemeteries. Pat was exceptionally helpful and sorted everything out from taking the cutting to sending it to the College. The rose came from the David Ruston garden which is in South Australia’s Riverland Region and is also the former home of the National Rose Collection of Australia.

The College still needs to find a few more plants to complete the collection but this is taking a bit of time as the plants are no longer grown commercially. We hope one day it will be registered as a National Collection through Plant Heritage.