For some in the gardening world there’s only one flower that signifies summer: the English rose. After 20 years of tending the fabulous Rose Garden at Hever Castle, I can say that I’m officially obsessed with them!
Last year, we worked out that over those two decades the team and I have collectively spread enough compost in the Rose Garden to cover Wembley football pitch 10 times over and we have deadheaded an estimated one million rose blooms!
During the month of June, the Rose Garden is a fantastic place to be. The flowers are at the peak of their colour: everywhere you look you see vibrant petals, shiny green leaves and you can smell nature’s very own perfumery.
Roses are one of the most rewarding plants you can grow, but there are a few measures you need to take to ensure peak bloomers…and it’s not for the faint-hearted!
Neil’s top tips for rose health
When it comes to blackfly and greenfly, we let the birds and aphids do their work at Hever. One week we will have totally clean leaves, then the next we find aphids under them, but we don’t panic, we just watch as the hover-flies, bees, ladybirds and birds get on with the job. They are fantastic gardeners for us. However, if you are eager to clear your roses of aphids, then take your thumb and forefinger, gently brush the leaves and squash the blighters!
Blackspot is a problem though. This fungus can really ruin the appearance of the roses. We spray every two weeks in order to keep this at bay, early in the morning and on a still weather day.
Ensure that the soil around your roses is kept clean and clear of debris, as mouldy dropped leaves will encourage the fungus to keep going next season.
Another key way to encourage healthy roses is to feed them with a granular slow release food at the start of the season, and after the first flush in July. Take your feed and draw a little circle with it around the base of the plant, making sure the feed doesn’t scorch the leaves.
Hever in Bloom 2023
Perhaps one of the most well-known rose-lovers is garden writer Val Bourne, who has been specially invited to give a walking tour of Hever’s famous Rose Garden on 20 and 21 June.
Val has been growing roses organically in her Cotswolds garden for 17 years and has perfected multiple ways of producing repeat flowering roses, as well as strategies for keeping the good insects in her garden and any diseases out.
Our very own Felix Green will be providing botanical art workshops during Hever in Bloom and the popular television show Landscape Artist of the Year will also be on site. Visitors will be able to see the artists engaged in their work as they set up their easels in the grounds.
Come along and find us in the Rose Garden this year – I guarantee you’ll leave with a new gardening obsession!
Hever in Bloom runs from 19-22 June.
Val Bourne will be giving a talk and tour on Tuesday, 20 June at 14:00, and on Wednesday, 21 June at 11:30.
Neil Miller and his team will also deliver their popular twice daily tours of the Rose Gardens at 11:30 and 14:00.