Leading rose breeder dies aged 76
1 February 2013
Leading rose breeder, nurseryman and Chelsea Gold Medal winner Peter Beales, MBE, VMH, has died, aged 76.
Peter, who died on 26 January 2013, started exhibiting at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 1971 and won 19 Gold medals. He was twice the recipient of the RHS Lawrence Medal (1997 and 2007), for the best exhibit of the year at any RHS show, and in 1990 he became a National Plant Collection holder for rose species.
Peter Leslie Beales was born on 22 July 1936 and raised in Norfolk. He studied at Norwich City College then became an apprentice at LeGrice Roses of North Walsham before going into National Service. During this time he met Joan, his wife of 51 years, who died in September 2012.
After his National Service, Peter became Manager at Hillings Rose Nursery in Surrey, working under the guidance of Graham Stuart Thomas. He succeeded as Foreman of Roses when Graham left to join nearby Sunningdale Nurseries.
He formed his own business, Peter Beales Roses, in Swardeston, Norfolk in the late 1960s, later moving to the site in Attleborough where one of the world’s largest commercial collection of old roses now grows – comprising more than 1,000 species and cultivars. Some 70 cultivars have been bred by Peter Beales and introduced to the market.
Peter was a respected author and his first publications were four pamphlets in a Jarrold series on roses in the 1970s. In 1985 he published his first major book, Classic Roses, followed three years later by Twentieth-Century Roses. Subsequent works were Visions of Roses (1996), Botanica’s Roses (1998) and A Passion for Roses (2004). In 2008, he published a lively autobiography entitled Rose Petals and Muddy Footprints.
Peter was awarded the RHS Victoria Medal of Honour in 2002, and the following year became President of the Royal National Rose Society. In the New Year Honours 2005 he received an MBE and the Garden Media Guild gave him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009. He was also a Fellow of the Institute of Horticulture.
His daughter Amanda and son Richard continue to run the business.