RHS London Rose Show 2016

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It’s a good sign when the Royal Horticultural Society show schedule is growing rather than shrinking. Last year an early summer London Rose Show was added to the programme; this November the inaugural London Urban Garden Show will introduce gardeners to a host of tropical and subtropical plant growers; and next year we have an all-singing, all-dancing flower show at Chatsworth to look forward to. It promises to be “a platform for design revolutionaries”, with a new category of show gardens called “FreeForm”. Here, daring designers will be encouraged to push the boundaries of garden making, showcasing ground breaking ideas. A new, contemporary show on the scale of the RHS’s other regional events is a genuinely exciting prospect: combined with the Brownian setting of Chatsworth it promises to be a cracking day out.

If you’d like to go along, the show will take place from June 7-11 2017 in the grounds of the Devonshire’s “big house”. Be prepared though, tickets go on sale a full year in advance, on Tuesday June 7 2016, with RHS members invited exclusively on the first day of the show. Unlike Chelsea, the show will run until Sunday.


RHS London Rose Show 2016


Back to London now, and during a frantic Friday at the office I manage to sneak out for an hour to enjoy the second London Rose Show. Quite how the RHS show team recover themselves so quickly after Chelsea I don’t know. They must be made of stern stuff. Far removed from the gloss and glamour of its predecessor this was a simple, unfussy show focussed firmly on roses. A select band of nurseries and rose growers, including Harkness Roses, which has been growing roses for more 125 years; Apuldram Roses, a Chichester-based family run business; and Peter Beales Roses, which has been awarded 22 RHS Gold medals at Chelsea, were on hand to give advice and sell plants.


RHS London Rose Show 2016


The Lawrence Hall was a much more calm, pleasant environment in which to shop for roses than either Chelsea or Hampton Court. I was delighted with my exquisite Rosa “Jacqueline du Pré”, purchased as a gift for a colleague from Harkness Roses. A simpler, more beautiful rose it would be hard to imagine.


Rosa "Jacqueline du Pré"
Rosa “Jacqueline du Pré”


Neither of our gardens is well suited to roses, and Him Indoors isn’t a big fan. Our roll call of varieties extends no further than Rosa banksiae “Lutea”; a rather diseased burgundy hybrid tea that came free with Polegate Cottage and a wild rose that makes an occasional foray into the garden from next door. This pains me greatly when I recall the joy roses gave me as a child – “Iceberg”, “Frencham”, “Queen Elisabeth”, “Peace”, “Fragrant Cloud”, “Masquerade” and “Albertine” were as much part of my younger years as friends, family and Roald Dahl. However, presented with an opportunity to buy Rosa “Bengal Crimson” at the Chelsea Physic Garden the previous evening, I had already let my plantaholic tendencies rip with another purchase I have no space for.


Rosa "Chandos Beauty"
Rosa “Chandos Beauty”


In their wisdom the RHS invited the fragrant Rachel de Thame to co-curate this year’s London Rose Show. I am sure her celebrity endorsement will have attracted a few more punters but after she’d shot me a couple of sour looks I thought better of saying hello. Nevertheless, the show plainly displayed a woman’s touch, being well organised, attractively laid out and, naturally, rose-scented. Mercifully the cavernous hall was fairly quiet after lunch on Friday but had been busier at the start of the day.


RHS London Rose Show 2016


The Chelsea School of Botanical Art set up a popular, pop-up classroom where those with time on their hands could learn the painting techniques that inspired Pierre-Joseph Redouté. RHS historian Brent Elliott’s newly published book The Rose: The history of the world’s favourite flower in 40 roses was available with a generous discount. Since I am still allowing myself purchases that relate to my new library I felt compelled to indulge.


Electric Daisy Flower Farm, RHS London Rose Show 2016


Floral design workshops were run by RHS London in-house florist, Helen Cranmer, but I was more excited by my discovery of the Electric Daisy Flower Farm who brought along a dazzling selection of flowers grown on an acre of fertile land at Bradford-on-Avon near Bath. The real flower movement is really gathering pace in the UK which is so exciting for flower arrangers and lovers of beautiful blooms. What’s more Electric Daisy have commissioned some stunning photography to promote their enterprise and furnish a calendar, one such image I’ve featured below. I hope to pay a visit to this vibrant new flower farm soon.


Photograph by Alma Haser
Photograph by Alma Haser


Although I am not seriously in the market for roses, I enjoyed the Englishness and simplicity of this bijou event. It’s great that the RHS are constantly seeking to expand their repertoire and have chosen to reinvigorate the London shows, which at one time seemed destined to become a thing of the past. The Lawrence and Lindley Halls are extraordinary and little known venues outside horticultural circles and deserve to be shown off. As I left, feeling hot, bothered and the wrong kind of fragrant, I was stopped in my tracks by a new, scarlet, single-flowered floribunda called R. “W.B. Yeats”. A new introduction, it will available in garden centres this autumn. I think perhaps it’s time I made more room for roses.


RHS London Rose Show 2016

remaining 2016 Show dates


RHS London Rose Show 2016

Categories: Flower Shows, Flowers, London, Photography, Plants, Trees and Shrubs

Posted by The Frustrated Gardener

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18 comments On "RHS London Rose Show 2016"

  1. Roses seem to be one of those families that sneak up on us…For years their reputation as divas requiring coddling with chemicals led to a blanket rejection, yet over time I’ve discovered many species roses that grow very well without any fungicides, etc. (rugosas, R. chinensis ‘Mutabilis’, R. ‘Madame Alfred Carriere’ and others… Even if a rose gets some blackspot etc, I refuse any remedies other than removal of diseased leaves. Good hygiene and air circulation seem to be key, along with growing the best varieties. The lure of ever-so-fragrant pendulous trusses from a climber, and the decadent fullness of some of the cupped Bourbons is increasingly impossible to resist. Also love many of David Austin’s creations. Beautiful photo of R. ‘Jaqueline Dupre’…Encountered one many years ago and fell for her immediately. ‘W.B. Yeats looks like a stunner…Wonder who has it? Like you, I seem to be finding more space for roses as time goes by….Thanks for another great post : )

  2. I agree with Joanna – however when I look at mine blackspotted and spoilt with our heavy rain at the moment, I sometimes wonder! Wish I could have been at the show. I can’t seem to stop with roses, no matter what they do when they are installed. Unfortunately you’ve produced two more possibles – Jacqueline du Pre and WB Yeats are truly luscious. Great to have the report on the growing cut flower industry in the UK too.

  3. My version of ‘him indoors’ also dislikes roses, which is very sad (in more ways than one) because I adore them. The garden of my family home was full of them as my mother also loved them and I still remember the scent of some of my favourites (though, alas, the only name I recall was not the velvety-petalled ones with heady scents, but the fabulous masquerade that grew up the side of the house. Hubby occasionally buys me a miniature rose but I’m really not as fond of them as of the ‘real’ roses as they are so temperamental – and who needs to use a magnifying glass to enjoy a rose? He mostly dislikes the thorns, maybe that’s why your partner also dislikes them?

    1. I am not sure he really has a reason. I suspect it’s because he doesn’t like anything he might deem “high maintenance”, which sometimes includes me! Our house in Plymouth also used to have Masquerade growing up the front. I remember my dad doing battle with it every few years when it reached the eaves. My mum hated Albertine because the faded flowers would cling to the stems looking all brown and crispy rather than falling to the ground. It needed proper dead-heading, which I find rather therapeutic.

  4. Gorgeous close ups, who could resist the beauty & associations of the likes Jacqueline Du Pre? Alma’s photograph is so interesting, thank you for including it in your review.

  5. Since I gave up my subscription to ‘The Garden’, once the highlight of my month, and as the dwindling of the South African currency made an interest in UK gardening ever more esoteric, I have gradually lost interest in the RHS shows; but you manage to rekindle the flame from time to time. You deserve your place among the UK’s leading gardening blogs, Don – may you continue to inspire!

  6. Must be a gremlin in the works Dan. Not sure how that username came up but could you please remove! This is why you shouldn’t just happily press send without reading!

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