Rose society unveils new garden

New national rose garden features over 2,000 varieties.

One of Europe’s biggest collections of roses was officially opened at the weekend after a garden redesign costing £500,000. The Royal National Rose Society (RNRS) opened its St Albans garden to a colourful fanfare of over 2,000 donated varieties and a 60m-diameter rose-clad pergola. Chief executive Richard Adams said: “It is a living dictionary of roses rather than just a pretty garden, so complementary planting like Clematis will feature strongly.” Michael Balston designed the 5ha garden, which was opened by garden writer Peter Seabrook. It was built by Adam Frost Landscapes and planting designs were by society members including Peter Beales, Brigid Quest-Ritson and David Stevens. The head gardener is Neil Oakman. Work was funded by selling half the original site to Butterfly World. Adams said the RNRS had turned a deficit of nearly £150,000 in 2005 into a surplus of almost £45,000, thanks largely to a £250,000 bequest from a local resident. He added: “The old garden was so scruffy, starting from scratch was the only thing we could do.” The RNRS is using a satellite mapping system to catalogue the location of each plant in the garden. Adams plans to boost RNRS coffers by developing land at the site for corporate events and weddings. Businesses are being approached to sponsor flower beds. Adams vowed the RNRS would regain its accreditation for a national collection of roses and said membership had been down but was now growing.

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