It’s been a good year for the roses in Chiswell Green
PUBLISHED: 12:40 20 August 2014
Resolution of its long-running car parking problem has resulted in the best summer yet for the Gardens of the Rose since it reopened three years ago.
The Chiswell Green garden, owned and run by the Royal National Rose Society (RNRS), has just closed after a nine-week public opening period during which the roses were at their peak.
The change in fortune has largely come about because of a deal reached with the neighbouring Butterfly World about parking and other collaborations including joint ticketing and discounted entry to both attractions.
RNRS chief executive Roz Hamilton said last week: “Our summer has been superb. We were open for around nine weeks and only closed on Sunday and although a lot of people think there is still a lot to see, the roses are no longer at their best.”
Praising head gardener Andy Godly for his hard work, she said the summer had been the best since the gardens reopened in 2011 when it could only only get planning permission to use a temporary car park for a very limited period.
“We are back on the map,” she went on. “We are exhausted but we really enjoyed it.”
Both the RNRS and the gardens faced a serious risk of closure several years ago because it could not stay open long enough to attract sufficient visitors.
But last year Butterfly World and the RNRS reached agreement following several meetings between the two parties brokered by St Albans council leader Julian Daly.
Among the visitors this summer has been a team doing a bridal fashion shoot for Vogue in Japan with models wearing wedding dresses designed by the likes of Vivienne Westwood.
By coincidence, a wedding celebration luncheon was held in the gardens by a Japanese couple who wanted to hold a party for their English friends and were delighted to hear about the shoot.
There was also a visit from a party from The Crown Estate which has a small rose garden at Savill Garden in Windsor Great Park and wanted to come and have a look around.
The gardens have also attracted several weddings – it has a full year licence to carry out marriages – and perhaps, more surprisingly, a couple of wakes. Roz explained: “We are en route from Garston Crematorium and we have a small tearoom but that is a market we didn’t expect.”
Roz would like to see the gardens open for longer but needs more volunteers to help with the hard work of deadheading and keeping the blooms at their best for their second flush.
She anticipates that in the future the gardens could reopen in September for special events such as the staging of Shakespeare plays and arts and crafts sales.
Anyone who would be interested in volunteering is asked to contact the RNRS in Chiswell Green Lane on 0845 833 4344.
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