I am a fiend for roses. I can’t walk past them in someone’s garden without stopping to have a look and a good old sniff. The smell is so fresh and summery, and every time it’s a little bit different. I just love the way they look and how straggly the green foliage is, with bursts of bright colour all over. But I don’t like them as cut flowers at all. The ones you get in florists seem to smell about as much as plastic flowers, and they look like plastic too.
Apparently the best roses in London are in Regent’s Park, and I was at a loose end yesterday so it seemed like a good time to find out. I hardly ever go to this park as it’s too far west, too touristy, and too manicured. But the rose garden is pretty spectacular. And bloody huge – I’m glad it’s not my job to prune all these.
I sat on this bench for ages. It’s a good place to eavesdrop on knowledgeable gardens wandering around naming all the varieties (the names are awesome – Razzle Dazzle was my favourite). I also saw a vicar sitting on a bench and drinking tea from a thermos. You can’t get more English than that. I think he was actually placed there by the park management to charm the tourists.
Strangely, I think I actually prefer coming across a few rose bushes in someone’s garden, or seeing them in unlikely places (there’s a whole load planted on one of the housing estates on Kingsland Road). Somehow having them all together in a tame park like this makes them less surprising. But it’s still worth a visit, for the amazing smell alone.