Roses at the RHS Gardens

Celebrating the nation’s favourite flower and the 'Peace' rose

Rosa PaxJune is the month when roses start to assume their starring role in the summer garden. And at RHS Gardens there is a very special rose to be seen.
2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. To mark this poignant anniversary, all RHS gardens planted a group of Rosa ‘Pax’.
The rose, originally bred by Rev. Pemberton, is a hybrid musk rose that was introduced in 1918 to mark the end of the war. ‘Pax’ is the Latin word for ‘peace’ and this rose, which was created in Essex, was meant to celebrate exactly that.
Each RHS Garden planted a group of Rosa ‘Pax’ to mark the centenary of the end of the Great War and in memory of those who lost their lives. The Pax roses were planted in the Shrub Rose Garden at Rosemoor in Devon, and by the Pavilion at the top of the Rose Garden at Wisley in Surrey. At Harlow Carr in Yorkshire, a Pax rose was planted in a container by the Lodge near the Queen Mother’s Lake, and Hyde Hall planted some during its Rose Weekend.
Reverend Joseph Hardwick Pemberton grew up in the village of Havering-atte-Bower (now within the London Borough of Havering). Roses were a passion throughout his life, but it wasn’t until his retirement from the clergy that he began breeding the plants. He created a new type of shrub rose, which he called ’hybrid musks’. These are highly scented, with large clusters of flowers that bloom for months at a time.

Hyde Hall's Modern Rose GardenRoses on show at the Gardens

The newly-planted 'Pax' roses will take a year or two to really look their best, but each garden has plenty of other roses to enjoy on a visit.

RHS Garden Rosemoor is home to two dedicated rose gardens, bringing together more than 2,000 roses across more than 200 different varieties and a wealth of hues and perfumes. 

The Rose Walk at RHS Garden Hyde Hall, brings a touch of formality to the Hilltop Garden. The Rose Walk runs parallel to the Modern Rose Garden and is lined with lavender on either side.

RHS Garden Wisley is home to the Bowes-Lyon Garden, whose contemporary design features winding paths surrounded by specially-chosen pest- and disease-resistant rose varieties, mixed with herbaceous plants, bulbs, perennials, evergreen shrubs and topiary.


Rosemoor's Rose GardensChoosing roses for your own garden

Jonathan Webster, Curator at RHS Garden Rosemoor has the following advice for anyone wanting to grow roses. “The four most important things you need to consider when choosing a rose are colour, scent, vigour and situation. For me their most important characteristic is fragrance,” he says.
Here are his other tips:
Most roses thrive in warm, sunny positions but there are some that will do well in more difficult locations like a shady north wall: Rosa ‘Narrow Water’, for example,
is an unusual rambler introduced in 1883 whose trusses of pale pink flowers show the golden-yellow stamens in the centre of the flower and which repeat-flowers throughout the season.

On the fence?

Lots of breeding work has been undertaken to create patio roses, which can be pot-grown to add a splash of colour to pots and window boxes. Those with larger gardens can use shrub roses, which are ideal for adding height to the border and can be mixed in with other plants.
Climbing or rambling roses can be used to cover walls and fences. Roses can also be planted as a boundary on their own: choose Rosa rugosa, a native of Asia commonly known as the hedgerow rose, to create a uniform hedge with the added security benefit of very thorny stems. Cultivars have pink, purple or white flowers followed by large decorative hips to end the season in autumn.

A bit of TLC

Pruning is key but roses can be confusing as all the different types have different needs. Although it’s always best to research what to do first, the overarching rule is to remove the three D's – the dead, diseased and dying wood – before removing crossing branches to ensure it keeps a good shape.

He adds: “Here at Rosemoor, we prune our roses hard to increase their vigour, giving the bush and shrub roses an open centre so good airflow is achieved which helps to reduce the dreaded fungal problems. After pruning, be sure to feed roses with a well-rotted manure mulch, and add a rose tonic foliar feed during the growing season.”

Useful links

Choosing roses
Expert advice from the RHS on selecting the right rose

Top 10 roses
Plantsman Graham Rice chooses his favourite varieties

Pruning tips
Confused about when to make the cut? This guide will show you what to do when


RHS Membership

I enjoy a refreshing walk… my membership gives me free family days out as often as I like.

Mrs Giddings, RHS member

Join the RHS

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.