The unpredictable British summer is often a thorn in the side of rose growers – but not this year.
For the rare long spell of hot, sunny, dry days has created the perfect conditions for some spectacular and long-lasting blooms.
At Hopton Hall in Derbyshire, the Georgian walled garden is a sea of dazzling red, yellow, bluey-purple, pink and peach. There are 23 varieties among the 2,000 rose bushes and owner Julie Thomas says they are ‘the best they’ve ever been’.
Explosion of colour: Head gardener Spencer Tallis amid the blooms at Hopton Hall in Derbyshire, where he has transformed a derelict site into a stunning display
No need to water: Hall owner Julie Thomas inspects one of her roses. Right: A Guy Savoy, one of the 23 species of rose on show at Hopton
Mrs Thomas, 59, added: ‘They love the dry, hot and sunny conditions and we don’t even have to water them. We haven’t watered the roses since the heatwave began, all we’ve had to do is dead-head them.’
RHS Garden Rosemoor, in Torrington, Devon, and the David Austin rose garden in the West Midlands – which has 700 varieties on display – have also exploded into colour, while at Kew Gardens in West London the air is full of the scent of vibrant fuchsia roses.
Well-established roses do not require watering in hot weather because they have taproots reaching down two or three feet to get all the moisture they need.
So this year makes a change from the typical damp British summer that either sees buds rot before they bloom or knocks the petals off once they come out.
Jonathan Webster, curator at Rosemoor, which has two spectacular rose gardens, said: ‘We have a great rose collection with 200 varieties and 2,000 plants, and I would say that this year the display has been stunning for several reasons. We had a cold winter which has helped to kill pests, and some plants perform better following a cold dormant season. And there’s been less rain and wind, which both blemish and give shorter life to the flowers.’
Guy Barter, chief horticulturist at the Royal Horticultural Society, said: ‘Roses come from climates where there’s a lot of light and warmth so this summer suits them down to the ground.
‘Even more importantly, like most trees and shrubs, roses are much less affected by dry soils and extreme heats compared with herbaceous perennials such as flocks.
‘If you try to dig a rose out you will find the roots are remarkably strong and deep, as they go down a long way to get the moisture they need. Roses also have small and glossy leaves, and both these features serve to limit moisture loss.’
Mrs Thomas bought Grade II listed Hopton Hall near Ashbourne with her husband Bill, a retired IT executive, in 2010.
Their head gardener Spencer Tallis, 52, who worked at the house under the previous owners, has transformed the neglected walled garden from ‘a derelict mound of earth’ into a classic rose garden. He planted the first rose in 2003. Varieties include Blessing, Queen Elizabeth Birthday Girl, Moment In Time and Indian Summer.
‘Without a doubt, the roses are the best they’ve ever been this year,’ Mr Tallis said.
Mrs Thomas added: ‘With the weather we’ve been having this summer, instead of having three or four flourishes of roses, they are all holding – and all the bushes are vibrant at the same time.’
Groundsmen at Cliveden House in Buckingamshire have managed to keep its impressive flower gardens in bloom – while the lawns around them are scorched brown by this summer’s heatwave.
Britain is battling its longest heatwave since 1976 but that hasn’t stopped gardeners at the Taplow country house from pruning the roses.
Unfortunately for visitors they have been unable to save the surrounding grass from the searing heat, which has gone well over 90F (32C) in some places.
The rose gardens at Hopton Hall on the Derbyshire Dales are also looking their best despite the intense heat leaving parks and fields scorched nearby.
Groundsmen at Cliveden House in Buckingamshire have managed to keep its impressive flower gardens in bloom (pictured) – while the lawns around them are scorched brown by this summer’s heatwave, the longest on record since 1976
Unfortunately for visitors they have been unable to save the surrounding grass (pictured today) from the searing heat, which has gone well over 90F (32C) in some parts of the country
The flowers at Cliveden House in Buckinghamshire are pictured in red, pink and purple bloom today despite the heat
Cliveden House employee is pictured pruning the flowers at the country manor on the Buckinghamshire/Berkshire border
Cliveden House sits on the border with Berkshire and was the setting for key events in the Profumo Affair, which saw the downfall of MP John Profumo following his sexual relationship with 19-year-old aspiring model Christine Keeler in 1961.
The stately home was also where the first ever female member of the UK Parliament to take her seat – Nancy Astor.
It became an important meeting place for her fellow Conservative MPs in the 1920s and 1930s and a group of political intellectuals who became known as the Cliveden Set.
It is now managed by the National Trust and welcomes thousands of visitors every year.
If the balmy weather continues, the UK will move into its driest summer on record, with thunderstorms forecast for tomorrow not affecting the unusually low rainfall count.
Today temperatures reached 83F (28C) in Heathrow, west London, with more heat expected again tomorrow.
Roses are in full bloom despite the scorching heatwave turning fields brown nearby at Hopton Hall on the Derbyshire Dales
Contrast: The immaculate rose bushes at Hopton Hall on the Derbyshire Dales are on top form in contrast to the scorched brown fields surrounding the stately home
The rose gardens at Hopton Hall near Ashbourne on the Derbyshire Dales are in full bloom while the surrounding fields turn a dry brown in the scorching heat
A statue is pictured in the Long Garden at Cliveden House in Taplow, Buckinghamshire where the flowers are still bright
At Swinsty Reservoir near Harrogate in Yorkshire water levels are alarming low, but in Bewl, Kent, the reservoir is in a far more healthy state with people sailing boats on the water.
There is a yellow weather warning in place for the south east of England tomorrow with slow-moving thundery downpours expected between 2pm and midnight on Friday.
The Met Office is warning that homes and businesses could be flooded quickly, with some damage to buildings.
Spray and sudden flooding could lead to difficult driving conditions with the possibility of road closures
There is a slight chance that power cuts could occur and other services to some homes and businesses could be lost.
Cliveden House (pictured right) sits on the border with Berkshire and was the setting for key events in the Profumo Affair, which saw the downfall of MP John Profumo following his sexual relationship with 19-year-old aspiring model Christine Keeler
Britain is battling its longest heatwave since 1976 but that hasn’t stopped gardeners at the Taplow country house from pruning the roses (pictured centre left) as the surrounding grass turns to straw