A sensory feast awaits at RHS Garden Rosemoor’s Festival of Roses

Daisy Hall
Authored by Daisy Hall
Posted: Wednesday, May 29, 2024 - 20:52

Immerse yourself in the fragrance and spectacle of thousands of roses in bud and in bloom in two dedicated gardens during the Festival of Roses Saturday 15 June - 14 July.

There’s no better place to admire the breadth of colour, shape and habit of these national favourites in early summer. Boasting one of the UK’s largest collections of roses, Rosemoor is home to more than 200 different varieties and over 2,000 specimens, ranging from traditional cottage garden climbers to modern varieties, all planted in different settings and combinations in the heart of the garden. The vast collection even includes cultivars classified as ‘endangered’ and ‘vulnerable’ so it’s well worth a visit.

These rose gardens were the first plantings in the ‘new’ formal gardens at Rosemoor in 1992. Originally added as a test case to see if roses could thrive in the West Country, where the damp climate and lack of pollution provide ideal conditions for black spot, varieties were selected for their reputation for disease resistance, vigorous growth and abundance of blooms. The profuse summer show of blooms that proves that they have flourished 32 years later is quite spectacular!

Join one of the weekly tours scheduled for every Tuesday at 12pm throughout the festival to learn more about these beautiful blooms. You can also speak to the friendly RHS Advisory team every Thursday to get expert advice on how to care for your own roses at home. If you are considering adding a rose to your garden, this certainly is the place to do some window shopping to aid your choice, with many varieties in stock in the Garden Centre.

Highlights of this month-long celebration include a Wedding and Hospitality Open Weekend 15 - 16 June, a special Rose Weekend 21 - 23 June - sponsored by Atkins Ferris Wealth Management, and the start of the Paul Harvey sculpture exhibition running from 15 June – 1 September.

If you are recently engaged or looking for somewhere to celebrate a special occasion, don’t miss Rosemoor’s firstWedding and Hospitality Weekend 15-16 June. This is an opportunity to enjoy a free tour of all the stunning indoor and outdoor spaces that can be hired for wedding ceremonies, receptions, meetings, concerts, parties or celebrations. The hospitality tours are free but must be booked in advance online – they will run both days at 10am, 11am, 12noon, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm. Visitors have the option to enhance their experience by adding a glass of prosecco with a canapé taster to their bookings for just £5 per person.

Looking for a great day out with friends and family? Visit during the Rose Weekend, 21–23 June, when you’ll have plenty to entertain you. 

Explore the rose themed artisan craft and food market in the airy Garden Room where beautiful handmade items created by some of the best crafters and producers in the West Country will be available to buy to take home. Browse for clothing, jewellery, homeware, cosmetics, and edibles from exhibitors ranging from fine artists and craft specialists to soap and candle makers and local delicacy producers.

Go for a wander through the gardens to admire the roses then kick back and let their scent wash over as you listen to some live music and birdsong on the Winter Garden lawn (you can even grab a takeaway picnic to enjoy!) Performers include:

Friday 21 June        Darren Sturgess, 11am – 12pm and 2pm – 3pm

Saturday 22 June    Rosanna Ball. 11am -12pm and2pm – 3pm

Sunday 23 June      Della Dunkley, 11am – 11.45pm and 2pm  – 2.45pm

Then head on down to join taster sessions of garden painting and drawing with North Devon Arts in the Cottage Garden, running from 10am – 4pm each day that weekend.

Learn more about these charismatic plants by taking in a rose walk and talk,  scheduled for 12pm and 2pm on the Friday and Saturday and 2pm on Sunday. Or, get your thorny questions answered at the special Rose Advisory Service between 12pm – 2pm on each day of Rose Weekend.

Families can enjoy the new lichen and invertebrate trails and discover the freshly planted willow wigwam and recently installed bird hide in the Brash Play area.

Everyone will enjoy the beautiful works of British sculptor Paul Harvey, inspired by his love of birds and Art Deco design, set in the beautiful Cool Garden designed by Chelsea Gold Medallist Jo Thompson.

All in all, the festival is a sensory experience that is not to be missed so do add the dates to your diary!