The Rose Garden at Buckland Abbey was only put in around the turn of the millennium as an Elizabethan-style Garden.

Over the years, it has undergone several different planting designs and has now developed into a very modern rose garden. Find out more about the historic rose garden at Buckland Abbey from Senior Gardener, Sam Brown and learn about the various roses you can see during your visit. 

Grassed over since at least the Victorian era, the landscaping was inspired by an earlier 18th century engraving which showed a formal garden in this area. Instead of focusing on historic, period specific plantings, we are now turning to more modern varieties of rose that offer increased vigour and disease resistance, alongside repeat flowering and incredible scent whilst remaining in keeping with the architecture of the 13th century Abbey buildings. Furthermore, they are all great for wildlife, with single or semi-double flowers, selected especially for their value to pollinators!

roses at buckland abbey


From a small entrance in the wall by the medieval Great Barn, a path leads through a small lawned area planted with Apple and Medlar fruit trees, where you then descend some steps into the formal Rose Garden. Here you are greeted by two beds dedicated to Rose ‘For Your Eyes Only’. Heavily scented and very floriferous, this is an unusual R.persica hybrid and has light pink flowers fading to apricot with a darker pink eye. Winner of Rose of the Year in its introduction in 2015, this is very popular with our visitors and always sells out when we get it in our plant centre.

Continuing on, you come to a fountain pond surrounded by another four dedicated rose beds each with a different variety. These are ‘Scepter’d Isle’, ‘Scarborough Fair’, ‘Compte de Champagne’ and the fantastically named ‘Tottering-By-Gently’. These are all newly planted, having only gone in as bare root plants in the winter of 2022/23, but are already growing on strong.

Around the edge are mixed herbaceous borders mixed with a few choice traditional roses such as ‘Zephirine Drouhin’, famous for being the first thornless climbing rose on its introduction in 1868, ‘Mme Isaac Pereire’ with rich double pink blooms and possibly one of the headiest scents of all roses, and the moss rose ‘William Lobb’, with its artfully ruffled dark pink flowers and spiny, mossy stems that catch the dew and glisten in the morning light.

However, there are still more modern roses to be found here including the soft creamy pink flowered climber ‘The Generous Gardener’ and the rarely seen ‘Girlguiding UK Centenary Rose’, bred in 2009 and planted by the local Tavy Division of the Girl Guides for their Centenary Party in 2010.

roses at buckland abbey

Buckland sits within a sheltered river valley in the South of Devon, and has traditionally experienced high humidity, warm summers and mild winters. This can mean problems with fungal diseases, like Black Spot, which plague older, more historical varieties. With the added uncertainties of climate change bringing extended periods of heavy rain, alternating with long dry heatwaves,  experimenting with more modern and vigorous varieties will hopefully make us more resilient. As a garden with an emphasis on growing organically, planting for wildlife and trying to cut out spraying with chemicals and using artificial fertilisers,  this will be an added incentive for us.


Sam Brown – Senior Gardener


Find out more about Buckland Abbey

Discovery, tranquillity and history – Buckland Abbey is an ancient gem in the Tavy Valley landscape. When you visit Buckland, you follow over 700 years of footsteps; from the Cistercians who built the Abbey and farmed the estate, to seafarers Grenville and Drake who changed the shape of the…