The UK’s Royal National Rose Society (RNRS), which was dedicated to preserving a wide variety of roses for future generations, has gone into administration. Its rose garden, home to over 5,000 varieties including hybrid teas, climbers, ramblers and shrub roses, was due to re-open for June-July but will remain closed to visitors for the foreseeable future. The society’s long heritage dates back to 1876, making it the oldest specialist plant society in the world, but in recent years it had struggled to recruit new members.
In response to the news, The Daily Telegraph ran an article with the headline: ‘Why British gardens are no longer a bed of roses‘. I imagine my old pals at David Austin Roses might have something to say about that!
On the other side of the Atlantic, my sweetheart and I recently called in to the rose gardens of the American Rose Society in Greenwood, Louisiana. I wish I could say I feel sure the future of that garden is assured. Roses planted amongst pine trees – some under their direct shade – are always likely to be at a disadvantage.
I love to see shrub roses amongst other flowering plants and found myself wishing that some of the most passionate and active plant societies would get together to add a little extra va-va-voom to the garden, while there’s still time. Now let me see – a rose, clematis, camellia, daffodil, hosta and hemerocallis garden, perhaps, with as many other companion plants as their breeders are willing to donate? It may only be a pipe dream, but it’s a pleasant one.
The rose is the national flower of England and America’s floral emblem. I’d say we have a good way to go before these generous plants lose favour with home gardeners, no matter what The Daily Telegraph may try to tell us. Of course I could be wrong – in which case, we should all seize the opportunity this summer to visit a rose garden while we still can.