Herts Ad Comment: Not a good year for the roses...

STOCK Generic office

STOCK Generic office - Credit: Archant

In March of this year, the Herts Ad was contacted by a representative of the Gardens of the Rose to make us aware of the problems they were experiencing with car parking following the closure of Butterfly World.

We immediately agreed to take up their cause and do whatever we could to help secure the future of this much-loved tourist attraction.

After all, it was only just a few years ago that we ran our successful Keep the Roses Blooming campaign to support the Gardens with the parking difficulties they were experiencing at the time.

The resolution of this long-running problem saw the Gardens thriving in terms of visitor numbers, and for the next two seasons everything looked good.

But the closure of Butterfly World changed all that, not least because car parking facilities were withdrawn as a result, despite assurances that this would not be the case.

When Butterfly World closed in 2016, chairman John Breheny assured the Gardens of the Rose that they could used their car and coach park for the foreseeable future, only to go back on this arrangement earlier this year.

The loss of the neighbouring venue would have taken its toll in other ways, from coach party visits to the redundant tourist signs shared between both attractions.

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We were determined to publicise whatever new problems had arisen, and do our bit to ensure the Gardens continued to thrive for generations to come.

Unfortunately our offer was never pursued, despite follow-up calls and emails, and then came this week’s revelation that the venue and its owners The Royal National Rose Society have now gone into administration.

A local councillor claims there is a huge pension deficit which the society could not meet, and this was the final blow for the facility.

Regardless of the cause, this is a devastating blow for tourism in St Albans, and also for the remarkable collection of roses which have flowered at this site for over half a century.

It may be that the administrators can devise a new business plan to secure the Gardens’ future, but the signs are not looking good.

After all, a huge international campaign to save Butterfly World has yet to achieve its goals, and that was arguably the more prominent of the two attractions.

It may be that we have to resign ourselves to the inevitable, and bid farewell to another jewel in St Albans’ increasingly tarnished crown.