Rolleston Gardens, Gardeners and Garden Sundays

The gardens and grounds of Rolleston Hall were of national note in the Victorian and Edwardian times, they featured in magazines and latterly were open to the public. As with so many other country estates that were broken up after the first world war, little remains, we have some fine specimen trees and attractive remains of the lake system and the watercourse, but the less permanent features have decayed or been built over.

The present day residents of Rolleston have, however, built on this heritage and we have a beautiful mixture of gardens including properties featuring aspects of the Mosley estate, cottage gardens and modern housing gardens.

Rolleston has featured highly in the ESBC Borough in Bloom competitions. It won the Burtotex Cup (ward with the six best gardens) four times between 1982 and 1990 and has come first over the past three years. Individual Rolleston gardeners have also been successful in many of the other classes, ranging from best floral feature, best organic garden, best front garden etc. In a wider sphere there have been national successes with ‘best plant grown in a container’, national gladioli and sweet pea awards, runner-up in major garden design competition etc.

With all this gardening expertise it is perhaps hardly surprising that in 1991 Rolleston joined the growing number of villages to host an "Open Gardens" event.

This event takes place on a Sunday afternoon with a pattern of opening in June and July on alternate years to give variety to the type of floral display on offer. Late June is an excellent time of year to visit traditional gardens, with roses and herbaceous borders at their best, while the later openings favour gardens where more emphasis is placed on bedding plants. A wide variety of styles has always been sought, and with the current trend towards vegetable growing the addition of the allotments to the list of venues has been very welcome.

The number of visitors has varied between 500 and 600 and each year an increasing income has been produced for St Mary’s Church, last year for the first time exceeding £2,500.

It should be noted that other interests as well as horticulture are catered for on Gardens Sunday; on several occasions there have been opportunities to visit the animals at the smallholdings and view the interesting display of old farm machinery, there have been local crafts for sale, displays of paintings from the Rolleston Gallery and sales of home-made produce to help swell the coffers.

Two further adjuncts to the main purpose of garden visiting have also been present from the beginning. The sale of home grown plants is often first call on visitors lists, many returning with stories of how well the plants purchased the previous year have settled in to the owner’s garden (or not as the case may be!) Then just to remind us what a cyclical process gardening is, specimen trees from the Mosley estate in the gardens of the Owl House, provide pleasant shade for the all-important business of refreshments - tea and cakes are a welcome break for many, although it has often been noted that on occasions visitors make this their first port of call arriving even before the official start of Gardens Sunday!

It is invidious to single out particular gardens because the village contains many "hidden gems" and gardening enthusiasts, but for the historical record at the turn of the millennium, the following selection features regularly in "Gardens Sunday" and local competitions.

Rolleston Hall estate and larger properties

Cottage Gardens

Modern estate houses


"Gardens Sunday" has been presented with Rolleston Civic Trust 1999 Award for the way in which all the contributors over the past 9 years have created a major Rolleston event bringing together the village and the wider community.

Sylvia Martin

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© This site was created by Richard Bush

Last updated: 5 April 2000