I have pretty much been staying at home apart from (almost) daily allotment visits and three supermarket trips, during lockdown. However, I’ve really been missing visiting gardens and buying plants.
I’m very lucky in that I live less than half an hour drive from RHS Rosemoor and having had membership for a few years, I tend to visit every few months. So, when the gardens first re-opened I was itching to get back. I waited initially, thinking of avoiding the crowds of people wanting to get out after weeks of confinement, but I don’t think there were ever really any crowds.
When I arrived there was one family before me in the queue and one arriving behind. The car park was practically empty. You currently have to book a slot to arrive and I chose between 12:00 – 13:00. You show your booking bar code and then you’re in. It was very easy and stress-less, with hand sanitzer stations in the entrance foyer.
On entering the gardens I headed left toward the winter garden. I love this garden in the depths of winter as the scent from the daphnes and sarcococca is amazing, at this time of year however, it’s all about the structure of the planting. There was also a large wasp nest among the shrubs which was great to see… clearly nature has been doing well without all the visitors.
After a stroll through the winter garden and then up to the model garden, I turned left into the cool garden. This garden was only created and opened last summer. The cool tones of pale lemon, lilacs and blues complement the water running through the space. I took some inspiration from here and bought a ceanothus for my front garden, just before I left.
Then I headed to the main reason for visiting Rosemoor in June and that is the amazing display of roses in both The Queen Mother’s rose garden and the shrub rose garden. Before you pass through the hedging to see the colourful glory of the roses, you are hit by the scent of petals baking in the sun. The Queen Mother’s rose garden was at it’s best with the wide range of roses and clematis flowering their hearts out. I sat for a moment on a bench and enjoyed some coffee whilst watching the faces of visitors light up as they entered the area.
When you walk through the shrub rose garden it is a little less formal with a variety of other plants and flowers to complement the roses. This garden leads really nicely onto the Potager and Cottage garden. I think this is my favourite garden at Rosemoor. I like the colour tone, the abundance of wildlife and the range of vegetables, herbs and fruit amongst the ornamental plants and flowers. There were several gardeners working on the garden when I visited, moving self seeding poppies and planting out more veg. Amazing that they kept the gardens looking so beautiful for us during the period of lockdown. They have done a great job.
One thing I did notice is the masses of meadow that they’ve now started to grow at Rosemoor. A couple of years ago there was very neatly cut lawn between gardens, but there are now four main meadows and they’re amazing. Whilst walking through the Stream Field I stopped to take many pictures of the first meadow I encountered. This is also where the only place to buy food and drink is as the cafe and restaurant aren’t open at the moment. After spending some time admiring the meadow I wandered down to the lake to have some lunch. There are loads of benches at Rosemoor, so it wasn’t difficult to find somewhere to sit.
The lake is so peaceful and the number of dragonflies and damselflies is fantastic. Just above the lake is another meadow which I walked through to get to the fruit field. The fruit field was planted with dozens of apple trees last autumn and some of them already have fruit. There was in particular which caught my eye, with the apples looking almost black.
I followed the path round and had a browse in the vegetable garden. I like to take lots of photos of this space and steal ideas for my allotment. I was particularly impressed with the range of trained fruit tress and bushes. There was a magnificent trained gooseberry in Mr McGregor’s garden. And the soft fruit was looking very yummy.
The final section I visited was the arboretum which you access by the under pass. It was here that I learned that Rosemoor has the national collection of Cornus, many of which are in flower at the moment. I sat for a moment in the upper bog garden and then wandered around to the stumpery before heading back via the plant shop.
As you can see from the photos it was really empty at Rosemoor and this was a Sunday afternoon. The RHS is a charity, and as they have already cancelled shows for this year and some next year, I worry about how this organisation will survive the current crisis. Their plant shop is one way which we can help. And the great things is that they also feature smaller nurseries.
I bought five plants; a cistus, ceanothus, leucanthemum, weigela and a geranium. These are all intended for my small front garden, which is more of a patch. The quality of plants is fantastic and I can’t wait to get them in the ground.
If you’re worried about visiting gardens, I would suggest from my experience that you have nothing to worry about. Precautions have been taken, including leaving toilet doors open and keeping the restaurant closed. And if you take a picnic blanket and flask/snacks then you won’t even need to sit on a bench.
It was a brilliant afternoon out and I am looking forward to my next visit.
Have you been to RHS Rosemoor? Are you planning to visit any gardens in the near future?