Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Romance of Roses

As promised I am visiting the beautiful Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park which covers over 128 acres and comprises rolling meadows, woodland, riverside fields and formal gardens. The City of Belfast International Rose Garden has made the park world famous, and contains over 20,000 blooms in the summer, divided into trial and display beds, an historical section, and a heritage garden that displays the best of the roses from local breeders.

Above are some of the walking group enjoying the kaleidoscope of vibrant colour.

In July 2012, Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park was awarded the Green Flag Award, which recognises the best open spaces in the UK.  It is one of ten of our parks, cemeteries and open spaces to receive this award.

Rose Week, which has been running at Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park every July since the inception of the Rose Society in 1964, will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year.  Last week was International Rose Week where every existing type of rose in the world was on display at Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park in south Belfast so Northern Ireland has a rich heritage in rose breeding, dating back to the 19th century.

Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park also contains International Camellia Trials, a walled garden, a Japanese-style garden with water features for quiet contemplation, a very popular childrens' playground, an orienteering course and many walks.  However today, I am showing you the Roses I photographed.  Soon in another post I will take you into the Japanese –style garden.

The idea of rose trials in Northern Ireland was first mooted in 1963 and the first trial roses were planted in the winter of 64/65.  Substantial development took place in 1980 and in April 2000, in Texas, the City of Belfast International Rose Garden was awarded the “Plaque of Merit” by the World Federation of Rose Societies.  This is only the fourth time the award has been given and it is a measure of the esteem in which the garden is held worldwide.

Approximately 50 new roses are submitted every year and are judged under 3 separate categories.  
They are 1.  Floribunda, Miniature and Climbing.
              2.   Hybrids.
              3.   Shrub. 

Rose hip of Rose below

They are judged by Permanent (80% of marks) and International judges (20% of marks) over 5 different visits throughout the summer.  They are looking for habit & growth, freedom of flowering, colour, disease resistance, flower quality, fragrance and resistance to weather damage.  The main countries contributing to the trails are Northern Ireland, Ireland, Scotland, England, USA, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Czech Republic, New Zealand and Japan.

The prizes for these categories are commissioned from local artists and craftsmen and change every year.

Originally, the park formed in the mid-18th century as part of the Willmont Estate that was first owned by the Stewarts, a farming family from Scotland.  The Estate was used for growing crops and bleaching linen and the main family house stood on the site of what is now the park's lower car park.

During World War II, American troops were stationed in the grounds of the estate while their officers lived in Wilmont House. Lady Dixon was well-known for her work with the troops and was created Dame of the British Empire as a result. Before she died in 1959, she donated the estate to the city of Belfast in memory of her late husband, a former High Sheriff of Belfast.
The site was re-opened as Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park later that year.

Thank you for visiting and hope you enjoyed the Roses.
MANY THANKS TO ALL who left comments yesterday on any one of my posts.


  1. Ahh, roses. Love them.

  2. Beautiful blooms and beautiful images Margaret. It looks like these gardens are a superb place to visit at this time of year?...[;o)

  3. how beautiful the location and the wonderful roses must've smelt so fabulous too Margaret; lovely photos

  4. Look at all the beautiful roses! What a pretty place to visit.

  5. it sure is beautiful! amazing gardens!

  6. Gorgeous shots-very impressive garden and interesting facts.

  7. What an incredible garden. Who doesn't love roses?

  8. So many beautiful pictures. Lovely.

  9. Thank you for the wonderful tour, these pictures are amazing!!!! So many surprises! And a few roses so big and lush that they look like peonies! My favorites are the huge yellow one, twelve, fifteen, twenty two, and twenty three. I can almost smell them through the screen!!

  10. WONDERFUL post. If I had a chance to visit these gardens,I might never leave.So many gorgeous roses,wow.

  11. What an exceptionally beautiful place. Your photos are just stunning. I wouldn't attempt to pick a favorite.

  12. Beautiful roses, so many pretty colors. Lovely photos!

  13. A really beautiful show of roses Margaret.

  14. Oh My Heart.... I'd be in heaven seeing all of those Roses... We grow Hybrid Teas and Grandifloras here (and have 57 different varieties). Last year, at a similar rose show, we found a new one --which we promptly ordered. It's name is Milestone.... Awesome Rose!!!!!!!

    Since you didn't put names, I'm not sure if any that you saw are like ours... BUT--we have several similar ones for sure!!!!! Thanks for sharing... I will do a Rose Blog Post on Friday this week (and have done one other one so far). You can see more of our roses by looking at my sidebar under the label, Roses (listed by the years).....


  15. What a treat for the eyes and nose! I know the roses' scent must be lovely.

  16. WoW...what a beautiful place!! i don't know if i have ever seen that many colors in one place!!

  17. I love Roses, they are beautiful, but, tend to snag you.

  18. Hi Margaret,
    Beautiful location with beautiful roses.
    Lovely place to walk.

  19. What a wonderful garden - the roses are just beautiful :) Look forward to seeing more photos of the gardens :)

  20. Hello Dear Margaret!
    I'm so glad that so you can explore the enchanted place far away ... I've never seen such an extraordinary birds.
    Roses, oh the most beautiful flowers. Some varieties also see for the first time.
    Your photos are excellent.
    I send a lot of kisses.

  21. What a gorgeous garden with its display of beautiful roses. I think I could spend days and days at this park. Thank you for sharing your visit through your wonderful pictures.

  22. What gorgeous place and great photos of it! Many great photos!