Head gardener leaves RNRS as new chief joins

Royal National Rose Society (RNRS) head gardener Neil Oakman has left by mutual consent after the society decided it needed a rose expert to look after its recently re-opened gardens.

Oakman's departure comes after HW reported that the St Albans garden has had difficulties with staff retention following its £500,000 re-opening in June (HW, 22 November).

It is now employing contractors, who new chief executive Roz Hamilton would not name but said were rose experts.

Hamilton, originally slated for a general manager role, was made chief executive by the board to succeed Richard Adams at an emergency meeting last week.

She said: "Neil was not a rose expert. It's no secret three gardeners have left. None were rose experts. There is an argument that that's a shortfall on us as a society. It is a specialist area and not something that can be learnt overnight. We have to have appropriate staff.

"That's where a lot of the disagreements have come from."

Hamilton said the contractors were "on top of what needs to be done". She added that she comes "from a commercial background and has a strong passion for roses".

Oakman, who could not be contacted, is believed to be leaving the area.

- See p10 for more RNRS news.


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