Originally a private garden of eight acres (3.2 hectares) created by Lady Anne Berry over a thirty year period from 1959, Rosemoor is today one of the jewels in the crown of the Royal Horticultural Society.
Lady Anne gave her garden, along with a further 32 acres (13 hectares) of land, to the RHS in 1988. It was the Society’s first regional garden and second only to Wisley - to which the new gardens created since Lady Anne’s time bear a definite similarity.
Today the whole garden extends to 65 acres (26 hectares) and includes new formal gardens which lie just beyond the modern visitor reception building. It is hard to comprehend that not much more than a couple of decades ago, this area was grazed by sheep. Immaculate hedges of yew, beech, hornbeam, box and holly provide green walls to a series of Hidcotesque garden rooms, each with a different theme.
The rose garden contains over 2,000 roses from 200 cultivars and is neighboured by potager, herb and cottage gardens, a foliage garden and a series of colour-themed gardens. Bisecting all is a 430ft (150m) long border packed with bulbs, annuals, perennials, shrubs and small trees especially chosen to provide four-season colour and interest.
Beyond the formal gardens lies a bog garden and lake. Fed by a natural stream, the lake is both ornamental and functional, acting as an irrigation reservoir for the entire garden. Fringed by gunnera, ferns, astilbes, persicaria and other large-leaved foliage plants, it offers the perfect contrast to the formal gardens and somewhere to relax before entering the fruit and vegetable garden, where the ability of the RHS to demonstrate best practice really comes to the fore. Organic gardening, green manures, crop rotation, biological controls and companion plantings are just some of the displays on offer.
No visit to Rosemoor is complete without entering Lady Anne’s garden. Here the atmosphere is still that of a private garden, retaining both a sense of tranquillity and timelessness. To the northern end is Rosemoor House, built around 1780 as a fishing lodge for Lady Anne’s ancestors.
By the time the RHS took over, this garden already contained more than 3,500 plants collected from all over the world, including several Collingwood Ingram cherry introductions.
The Society have continued apace with further introductions, many of which are displayed in a delightful exotic garden, where palms and bananas sit comfortably alongside Indian ginger lilies Hedychium sp. and castor oil plants.