The last twelve months have been a tricky time for gardeners. 2012 recorded record levels of rainfall and very little sunlight, which wreaks all sorts of horticultural havoc on the meticulous preparation it takes to create the perfectly crafted garden. Gardens open to the public have particularly suffered. Relying on the spring and summer months to bring in large numbers of visitors, the treacherous weather over the year meant that visitor numbers were down drastically as people opted to spend their time indoors, out of the wet and in the warmth.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. A few days of incredible sunshine so far in 2013 are encouraging, but in these times of uncertainty we need to make the very most of the sunny days available. Who knows when the next one will be? At the time of writing it’s mid May. We’re rapidly approaching prime time British weather (June/July), which happens to also be the prime time for a traditional English classic – the rose.
So, in hearty preparation (and hope!) for some fantastic summer weather, we’ve compiled a list of 10 incredible gardens to visit for roses this year. Some are large, grand estates with plenty to see and do, whilst others are smaller gems, but sensational nonetheless. Why not tell us about your favourite places to see roses?
The Alnwick Garden, Northumberland
Very much a David Austin Rose Garden and constructed by the Duchess of Northumberland, The Alnwick Garden has over 3,000 varieties of rose including the famed ‘Alnwick Rose’. This rich pink, fragrant English rose was created especially for the garden by David Austin himself, launched at the RHS Chelsea Flower show in 2001 to great avail. Alongside the roses, a spectacular woodland walk and the impressive Grand Cascade make Alnwick an excellent visit.
Hever Castle and Gardens, Kent
4,000 rose bushes line the walls of the now famous walled rose garden of Hever Castle, set in the garden of England. A location steeped with history as the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, the ‘Hever Castle Rose’ was bred specially for the garden and first planted by Dame Judi Dench, a fan and regular visitor to the gardens. The rose itself is a particularly deep red, and most impressively manages to look spectacular from May all the way to mid – October. Hever Castle Gardens are also now celebrating 50 years of being open to the public.
Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire
There are 9 different gardens at Sudeley Castle, 3 of which display marvellous roses at their peak in June. The most prominent of these gardens is The Queens Garden which holds over 70 varieties and The White Garden (a garden dedicated to the Virgin Mary) where you’ll find plenty of white roses, nestled alongside peonies, clematis an tulips. Sudeley Castle will be having its annual Rose Week from 24th June to Sunday 30th June, with special tours taking place. Visit the website for more details.
Queen Mary’s Gardens, London
World famous and rightly so, Queen Mary’s Gardens in Regents Park, London have now been open to the public for over 80 years. The collection is London’s largest. 12,000 roses are planted within the gardens, with 85 single variety beds on show including the eponymous ‘Royal Parks’ rose. You’ll find most varieties of roses here, but the first few weeks of June are the prime time to make a visit.
Mottisfont Abbey, Hampshire
Whilst also boasting carpets of spring bulbs and incredible Autumn colour, it’s safe to say that the rose is very much the centrepiece of the gardens at Mottisfont, regarded as one of the finest rose gardens in Britain. Set within the grounds of what was a 13th century monastery, Mottisfont’s rose gardens are said to be the ‘masterpiece work’ of Graham Stuart Thomas, horticultural advisor to the National Trust for 30 years. An absolute must see for rose enthusiasts.
RHS Garden Rosemoor, Devon
As the name may suggest, the RHS Garden Rosemoor has a superb selection of roses across two specific gardens – the formal Queen Mother’s Rose Garden and the Shrub Rose garden, although oddly, the Rosemoor flower itself is actually a variety of Clematis. The 65 acres at Rosemoor contain a number of plant varieties, but throughout June and early July the roses will undoubtedly steal the show. With photography workshops throughout the month and Lavender Saturday on the 15th June, it’s an exceptional time to visit.
Sissinghurst Castle, Kent
Another contender for one of the finest gardens in Britain, Sissinghurst displays roses in colourful, breath-taking and spectacular abundance. The garden we know today was brought about in the 1930’s by famed gardening writer Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicholson who together perfected the planting design and overall structure of the garden itself. The Rose Garden and The White Garden, from late May to early July, will be enough to satisfy the thirsts of any horticultural enthusiast.
Malleny Garden, Midlothian
A true hidden gem just beyond the outskirts of Edinburgh, Malleny Garden boasts over 150 varieties of rose, whilst also holding the National Collection of 19th century shrub roses. The gardens have an essence to them, a calming sensual aura, making them the perfect location to take a step back, relax and enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings which have had the same layout for over 100 years. Also home to four impressive 400 year-old Yew Trees, nicknamed the Four Evangelists.
Coughton Court, Warwickshire
Coughton Court is an award-winning garden for its roses, having been given the Award of Garden Excellence by the World Federation of Rose Societies. The particularly renowned element of the gardens is the Rose Labyrinth situated within a series of garden ‘rooms’ as part of the historic Walled Garden. The labyrinth itself has 200 varieties of rose combining to create a marvellous feast for any rose lover. Head gardener Sam Tippens is providing guided tours twice daily during Coughton Court’s Rose Festival, from 23rd June to 7th July.
Powis Castle & Gardens, Welshpool
The first thing likely to strike you about Powis Castle is just how dramatic a spectacle the overall setting of the castle and gardens are. There is a real element of theatre, with the castle floating above the 26 acres of lush gardens. The roses line the walls all around the castle and grounds and are particularly abundant throughout June and July. The Italianate terraces, and the views they offer, are something to truly behold.