As the summer days hit their longest point in June, Hever in Bloom is a spectacular showcase for the nation’s favourite flower – the rose. The famous gardens at Anne Boleyn’s childhood home of Hever Castle in Kent were created by American billionaire William Waldorf Astor at the turn of the 20th century.
This stunning Edwardian pleasure garden is home to many garden rooms, including a breathtaking Italian Garden adorned with ancient statuary and colourful geometric planting.
But perhaps the highlight for three weeks in June is the romantic Rose Garden with its heady scent and beds full of roses of every hue during Hever in Bloom, which runs from the 20th to 26th June.
So, what is there to see this year? Head Gardener Neil Miller points us in the right direction…
The Rose Garden
With over 5,000 roses on display, this formal area of the gardens is a prime spot for plant lovers in June. As you enter the Rose Garden from either the rotunda on Pergola Walk or from Blue Corner, the scent is incredible and roses stretch as far as the eye can see.
The statutory and columns lend themselves to the roses at this time of the year as they spread and bloom in proliferation. Rosa Rhapsody In Blue backed by the bright yellow of Absolutely Fabulous is something to behold.
The Rose Garden is also home to perfectly white Iceberg roses that border the space. From the orange of Super Trooper, coral-pinks of Lucky and the beautiful scarlet-red Hever Rose bred by the late Colin Horner, every colour is involved.
Neil explains that there are far too many roses on the estate to list by name, however, honourable mention goes to Rosa Ballerina in the Tudor garden and the cloud of the David Austin bred Anne Boleyn Rose with their blooms coloured peach and pink by Half Moon Pond.
“A new rose for us this season is Sheila's Perfume a showy fragrant rose with yellow flowers that emerge with shell pink overtones and red edges." says Neil. “The scent of this is absolutely stunning!”
June is a festival of colour in the Italian Garden at Hever Castle & Gardens, with bedding competing for visitors’ attention.
Nemesia, begonia semperflorens, salvias and pink diasicas proliferate in the garden rooms planted along the 1/8th of a mile of the Pompeiian Wall, and like starlets on a red
carpet, the pelargoniums do their annual best to impress.
Down on Pergola Walk, as the shadows cast by the grottoes protect the plants from June’s sunbeams, the hostas and ferns are thriving. The attractive foliage on these plants provides a great talking point for visitors who often wonder how Hever Castle’s ten-strong gardening team keep the snails from finding their perfect hostas!
Hever Castle & Gardens’ collection of ferns are beginning to unfurl their fronds as the air warms even further this month. These magnificent plants, who love the shade of Pergola Walk, have a pre-historic quality, but unlike the gunnera over on Two Sisters, there’s a delicate softness and unique frilliness to the fronds of the ferns as they uncurl and stretch in the cool shade.
The Long Border
As you climb up the steps from Blue Corner and round the bend, you’ll see, to your right, the long border. You may even hear it first because this floriferous part of the garden is a haven for bees and buzzing pollinators like hoverflies and butterflies in June – thanks to alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle), peonies, alliums, eringyum (South American sea holly) and the elegant scabiosa.
One to look out for this month, Neil explains, is polemonium, or Jacob’s Ladder, with its slender leaves arranged by Mother Nature on the stems to look like the rungs of a ladder. This plant, from the phlox family, has delicate purple bell-shaped flowers, with protruding stamens loaded with pollen in June, which call to the bees. Hummingbirds also like to pollinate this flower.
Over on Two Sisters, the team have been busy planting new red, pink and white water lilies in the pond, which will flower soon. The collection of impressive pre-historic looking gunnera that hug the water continue to grow their gigantic umbrella-shaped leaves throughout June.
Gunnera manicata has enormous leaves (among the biggest of any plant we can grow in the UK) that can reach 2m wide. “They enjoy a very moist and humus-rich soul, so this spot by the water at Two Sisters is perfect for them,” says Neil.
If you’re planning to visit Hever in Bloom in June, then make your way to the nostalgia rose bed beside Festival Theatre, planted just two years ago, and allow yourself to be wowed by these beautiful large-headed specimens, including Pink Martini by Rumwood Nurseries of Maidstone. You can then stop by the shrub rose border inspired by American poet Emily Dickinson’s New England garden.
Visitors of this year’s Hever in Bloom will be able to enjoy botanical art workshops and rose buttonhole workshops. Former deputy head gardener Emma Fuller of Fuller-Wilke Florals, who worked with the gardening team at Hever for many years before setting up her floristry business, will run the buttonhole workshops twice daily within the rose garden, while Felix Green, gardener and artist at Hever Castle, will deliver inspiring botanical workshops.
Attending Hever in Bloom 2022
Hever in Bloom will run from 20th June to 26th June 2022, with daily tours of the garden commencing at 11:30am and 2:00pm on weekdays and at 11:30 on weekends. Rose buttonhole workshops with Fuller-Wilke Florals will take place 20th - 26th at 12.10pm and 2:40pm. Felix will be running his workshops from the 21st at 12.10pm and 2:40pm
Maps of the gardens are available at the entrance huts and information desk. To find out more, visit www.hevercastle.co.uk.