At least the roses are enjoying the rain: wet weather brings bumper blooms to Bolton Castle in North Yorkshire

A damp and cold spring has played havoc with many a garden this year but when it comes to roses it seems the wet weather has only helped them grow.

At Bolton Castle, near Leyburn, the arbour gardens are now in full flourish with a riot of colours and shades. Head gardener Jason Hanslip, carefully tending the stems, said this year's blooms may be the best he has seen at the castle.

“We didn’t experience the very warm dry spell we had in April last year, but we had a lot of rain instead in 2024," he said.

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"I am convinced that because of this our roses weren't subjected to any stress early in their growing and have been able to flourish."

Jason Hanslip with Roses at Bolton CastleJason Hanslip with Roses at Bolton Castle
Jason Hanslip with Roses at Bolton Castle

Mr Hanslip leads on all the gardens surrounding the castle, part of the Bolton Castle estate in North Yorkshire. This year he has dedicated extra time and effort to the roses, and with greener tourism in mind hasn't used any chemicals or pesticides.

Snails and slugs have proved a particular hazard for many gardens this year, it seems, while at Bolton Castle there are wildlife cameras to keep a close watch on the rabbits.

Mr Hanslip's top tips though include early maintenance pruning in February, a good mulch with organic matter, then a good feed with organic rose tonics.

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He has added to the beds this year with heritage roses that grow well on this exposed piece of land, and which are in-keeping with the castle's setting.

Rose GardenRose Garden
Rose Garden

"The ground and existing roses had been well managed, but with this type of exposure to the elements a few had lost their way and were looking a bit tired," he said. "These roses experience strong icy winds coming down the valley, so I wanted to strengthen the beds with new varieties such as English Garden and Mary, which have a strong stems to provide additional support to weaker varieties but also keeping that traditional look, and Quatre Saisons which is believed to be one of the first repeat flowering roses which produces a cloud of pink blossoms to fill any gaps.

"We also have many traditional roses like Rosa Mundi which dates all the way back to the 1600s and is also referenced in the 1200s. Other roses that work well here and seem to be able to survive the rabbits include one of my personal favourites La Ville de Bruxelles and Ispahan.”

Bolton Castle, among the country’s best preserved medieval settings, was originally built as one of the finest homes in the land. Now, having borne witness to more than 600 years of history, it is still in the private ownership of Lord Bolton, a direct descendant of the original owner Sir Richard le Scrope.

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The castle is open every day until November, with the Rose Arbour Garden now said to be at its best. This year the gardening teams have added a willow tunnel joining to the medieval herb gardens, and are starting work to transform quadrant lawns into a medieval knot garden.