A summer of roses

Thousands of National Garden Scheme gardens have roses at the heart of their planting. But what we consider to be quintessentially British is actually an ancient flower which, according to fossil evidence, is 35 million years old and was probably first cultivated by the Chinese 5,000 years ago.

In the language of flowers, roses symbolize love but in pre-Victorian times you were more likely to find them on your dinner plate than in a vase. Traditionally grown for their nutritional and medicinal value, apple-scented rose leaves were once brewed as tea, rose petals coloured salads and rosehips were cooked into sweet syrups packed with vitamin C, ascorbic acid and iron. For people battling anaemia, rose hips contain the perfect balance of nutrients. Aromatherapists and perfumers prize the heady scent of roses too; rose is soothing to the nervous system and, according to folklore an ‘expert mender of the cracks in broken spirits’.

Today, the bloom, colour and perfume of roses remain a firm favourite with gardeners and are the summer heart of National Garden Scheme gardens large and small.

A few fragrant favourites to explore include:

Stanton Fence, Northumberland (lead image copright Val Corbett) which opens on 17 July – click here for details. Or explore this rosy trio:


Click here to explore the rose gardens opening for the National Garden Scheme this summer

For more roses watch our virtual garden visits

Cadenham Manor, open by arrangement for groups of 15 to 40 people, until October. Home to over 70 varieties of old roses in this virtual garden visit, garden owner Victoria Nye introduces you to some favourites.

Sambrook Manor, open on 10 July and 28 August – the owners shared this lovely film during lockdown.

As its romantic name suggest, Rosearie-de-la-Nymph – open on 19 and 26 June – is all about roses and it is a wonderful surprise to discover such a rich kaleidoscope deep in the Northamptonshire countryside.

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