By Martin Gee, Head Gardener
Work is underway to restore the Rose Garden to it’s original Victorian design and this has been largely funded by generous Gift Aid donations from our visitors. The restoration is part of a year long programme to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria. As a charity we are able to claim 25p in the £1 back from HMRC if visitors choose to Gift Aid their ticket when visiting us. The generosity of our visitors has been overwhelming and we hope that many of them will return this summer to see the beautiful garden that they have helped to restore.
We started work in November 2018 and have gradually removed old plantings and box hedges ready for the new roses to go in. The rose plantings are now over 25 years old as work was last done in this area in 1993 so they are showing their age now. To compliment the planting schemes the lawns will be steel edged to add definition and crisp clean lines that will improve the overall look and feel.
The Trustees of the Weston Park Foundation, the charity that owns and maintains the estate, had originally planned to return the Rose Garden to designs by landscape artist Edward Kemp. That was until Curator Gareth Williams made the fascinating discovery that the gardens were actually designed by William Brodrick Thomas, who also laid out the gardens at Sandringham for the Prince of Wales in the 1880’s.
Myself and the team here at Weston have been working with leading Rosarian Michael Marriot from world renowned David Austin Roses from nearby Albrighton. We have studied plans, correspondence and bills of the 3rd Earl of Bradford to inform the new planting schemes. Michael has chosen roses based on their colour and scent as well as being practical and considering disease resistance and long flowering potential.