Regent’s Park’s famous rose gardens have taken a battering from our very wet British summer – but a visit will still lift the spirits. Just take a brolly.
About the author: Hello! I’m Laura Mannering and I’m Editor of World Out There. Laura’s Travel Notes is the part of the blog where I put my briefer travel tips and bits – colourful snack-size travel bites to inspire you.
To anyone visiting Britain this summer – I’m sorry. You have timed your stay to coincide with our brand-new monsoon season, in which garden furniture and barbecues have been replaced with flood-protection sandbags and Wellington boots.
We’re trying to make the best of it – the London Evening Standard today recommends an outdoor swim at one of the city’s open-air pools. Well, you’re going to get wet anyway. Or perhaps a surfing session at the temporary wave generator we have in the city…
If this kind of summer deluge becomes a regular occurrence, perhaps we’ll embrace it. Summer sports will take in umbrella jousts and Wellie throwing. There will be underwater picnics and wet T-shirt contests. And hosepipe bans will become a thing of the past. But as it is, we’re going about our business in a fairly grumpy manner, praying for sunshine.
And there were ten minutes of it today in London – glorious, proper, blinding sunshine. We bathed in it, lapped it up, our grateful faces turned skywards to drink it in.
In the hope of a warm wander, I made my way over to Regent’s Park rose gardens, part of the Queen Mary’s Gardens section of the park, and one of my favourite places in summer.
Five minutes from the gate, the rain began again.
The rose gardens themselves were the floral equivalent of the Battle of the Somme – beautiful blooms cut down in their prime, withered and brown due to our terrible weather.
Initially, I was disappointed. ‘I guess it looked better a couple of weeks ago,’ a plaintive American lady said to her friend. Yet if you look closely, within these battered rose beds, there are still miraculously perfect flowers which have withstood the elements. Their sweet fragrance hangs in the air, reminding us that summer hasn’t been obliterated altogether.
By the time I reached the nearby café, the sun had emerged. It reflected in puddles on the paths and in the droplets of water on the green metal surfaces of the outdoor cafe tables. More brief showers came and went, but the sun finally won out and there was another blissful 15-minute stretch of sunshine.
As I walked back through the rose gardens under blue skies, a Japanese photographer was lining up a shot. ‘It looks just like a postcard!’ he said. Possibly one of those that reads: ‘I came to London – and all I got was this lousy umbrella.’
Whether you catch it during rain or shine, the Regent’s Park rose gardens really are worth a visit – it’s only right to pay tribute to those brave blooms that are sticking two fingers up to the weather, and to drink in the smell of summer.
For more information on Regent’s Park and London’s Royal Parks go to the Royal Parks website.