Plant Heritage At Risk As Rose Society Enters Administration

Rose with rosebud

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.  

Rosa Queen of Sweden

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!

Striped roses

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.

Rosa 'Wollerton Old Hall'

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.

Shrub rose












42 Replies to “Plant Heritage At Risk As Rose Society Enters Administration”

  1. What lovely Rose photos. As the world ages a lot of things that are dear to people disappear as there isn’t any young ones to carry on in many organisations who strive to preserve the last remaining pieces of plants and our environment.

    1. I can hardly believe my eyes when reading some of the quotes about the Paris climate pact – I suppose that puts the fate of a single, fairly resilient species of plants in perspective.

  2. I’ve only recently come to appreciate roses. They were spoiled for me by memories of bleak rose gardens in municipal parks, just serried avenues of apparently dead twigs for much of the year. Now I enjoy them tumbling over the walls of houses, or scrambling freely wherever they can. And the scent …. that of course.

    1. Roses do need the freedom to clamber, tumble or mingle to be at their very best. I’m rarely charmed by the municipal park effect either – even if you happen to catch the roses in full bloom they still seem to be lacking something.

    1. The charity Plant Heritage reached out to make the point that they were unaffected by the closure of the RNRS, other than that the RNRS garden held one of many Plant Heritage National Collections. I wrote back, inviting them to send me a quote I could add to the post but haven’t heard from them so far. If they do respond, I’ll ask if they have any idea what will happen to the roses. It’s perhaps a bit too soon to make any decisions as many will be hopeful that the RNRS may survive in some form.

  3. That is sad because the garden was relatively new, and roses are as popular as ever. The idea of several societies sharing a garden is a good idea.

    1. I agree they seem as popular as ever – roses have been living alongside us for thousands of years and I can’t see that changing.

  4. I love your photos, of course, but they also brought beloved memories to mind: the roses in the yard of a generous (your word!) family friend (North Carolina, USA,1960s); my mother’s old-fashioned pink roses used in my wedding (1975); the rose garden of the Wrigley Mansion(Pasadena, California, USA, 1980s); the heat-hearty knock-out roses at my home (Albany, Georgia, USA, 2008); the stately gardens at The Biltmore Mansion (Asheville, NC, USA, 2016). Roses move back and forth between the aristocracy and the proletariat, from fairy tales to Shakespeare. In any locale, both scent and memory are sweet!

  5. Roses seem to be the topic of choice today, which is completely fine with me. Your pictures are lovely. I particularly like the white and pink ones.

  6. What an interesting yet sad read, I dearly hope this can be resolved as roses are a big feature in our garden and thousands more in the U.K. Your pictures are stunning and really capture the essence of the Rose. Thankyou and thankyou also for following my blog x

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