I can’t tell you how many years I’ve wanted to visit Rosemoor when the roses are in bloom, but I can show you why. Friends had hinted I’d find a delightful rose garden there, but I’d been withholding judgement on whether it was a truly great one until I could see it for myself.
I’ve long been aware that not all rose gardens truly delight me. It seems I have a demanding wants list: relatively few rose gardens can tick off everything I look for.
My checklist includes:
1: The roses should look happy to be there.
2: They should be growing with other types of plants that bring the best out of them.
3: It’s good to recognise some of my favourites as I walk around (this is not too difficult as I have lots of favourites).
4: There should be a good mix of shrub roses, climbers and ramblers.
5: Rose gardens should have ample resting places.
6: The structures provided for roses to grow on should be decently covered.
Some gardens pull off all these and more, but I can think of few others that do it better than RHS Rosemoor.
Old and English shrub roses were growing with perennials that made ideal companions for roses. I’m sure these alter from season to season, but the plants that caught my eye included polemonium (Jacob’s ladder), acanthus mollis, papaver (poppies), penstemon, stachys (lamb’s ear), and alchemilla mollis. Swathes of cerise pink and white lychnis coronaria were particularly effective.
Rosa ‘Morning Mist’ was glowing far more strikingly than I’ve been able to reproduce here: it’s a rose in sunset colours that should be more widely grown, particularly by those who love single roses. Whenever I see it, I remember how lovely it looked grown along a post and rail fence. I’d be tempted to mention that this was one of David C.H. Austin’s personal favourites, were it not for the fact that I so often see different varieties this is claimed for. It is fair to say he had lots of favourites too!
The soft yellow blooms of Rosa ‘Molineux’, named to honour the football club he followed, already had the hints of orange we can expect to see in the second flush of blooms.
Climbing and rambling roses looked fantastic paired with starry and bell-shaped lilac-blue varieties of clematis, including Clematis ‘Perle d’Azur’.
In the pictures I’ve selected from many taken, I’ve tried to give a feeling of the opulence of the garden and the grace and movement of the roses.
I always look out for beautifully formed flowers. I believe the flower above is Rosa ‘Strawberry Hill’, though the flowers are mature and a purer pink than the younger ones that have a warmer glow.
Had romance been lacking (which it was not), these crimson ‘Darcey Bussell’ shrub roses alone would have saved the day.
I believe this splendid shrub rose is Rosa ‘Ballerina’, although I don’t remember its flowers being quite as large as these ones. My sweetheart and I rooted around under the foliage looking for a label without finding one. If you know differently, let me know in the comments! (Update: I later got a message from Andrew Pearson to suggest it might be Rosa ‘Rosy Cushion’)
It’s a great tribute to Rosemoor’s gardeners that this all seems so effortless. If you have tried to grow roses yourself, you’ll understand the care and dedication involved to keep them looking so good, weeks into their blooming season. Merely deadheading this many roses is a big ask.
Regular readers may remember that ‘A Shropshire Lad’, with its large, fragrant, beautifully coloured blooms, is one that I like to see.
Although we all have different tastes, I’d venture to say that many lovers of roses will find their own boxes are ticked here: the main rose gardens at Rosemoor are magnetic; the surrounding areas, especially the long borders and cottage garden, have a good helping of roses too. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the new garden the RHS are developing at Bridgewater in Salford will have something along these lines in store for Northerners when it opens in 2020. One can always hope!
It says a lot that, having spent several hours there in the evening, we still wanted to come back the following morning to explore some of the areas we’d missed. If you’re nearby and love plants of any kind, I highly recommend a visit.
Visiting the garden
RHS Rosemoor Garden
Rosemoor’s Rose Festival runs for six weeks during early summer.
Rosemoor is one of the enlightened gardens that occasionally open late. It’s a special feeling to experience a beautiful garden in the peace of a summer evening as the light fades. Dates are advertised online and social media.
Entry is free for members and one guest. If you are not a member of the RHS, the late evenings offer a great way to get a taste of the garden for a reduced fee for non-members after 5pm.
Please check details online before setting out as things can sometimes change.