Could this be the earliest English rose garden?

Planted in the early 19th century, we believe our Rosary to be the first rose garden of England. Inspired by French gardens, the Chiswick rose garden was created for scent, colour and pleasure and our collection of over 140 heritage roses continues to thrive.


The Chiswick Rosary was created in the 1790s for Duchess Georgiana, who was ethralled by the roses she saw in France. Many of the roses in our collection date from  that time. The Rosary gave the Duchess the opportunity to entertain her guests while enjoying the abundance of colour and scent of the blooms.

Roses begin to bloom in May and reach their peak in June. Visit this month to fully appreciate the sights and scents for yourself!

The first rose to flower in the radiating beds on 16 May 2023 – Rosa centifolia ‘Soupert et Notting’ (1874)

Our Rosary retains a mid-19th century appearance and is a distinct, formal triangular area of the Gardens. It’s easy to spot thanks to the Venus de Medici doric column (1729). We have over 140 species of late 18th and early 19th century roses which bring an abundance of colour to the radial beds.

The aptly-named Rosie Fyles, our Head of Gardens, picks some of her favourite roses:

The Emily Bronte, which is pink to apricot in colour has a gorgeous scent and is a tough plant. The Boscabel’s incredible fragrance is matched by buds that begin red and open to coral pink. I also love the moss roses in the Chiswick collection. Their sage green feathery growth as buds form, their old-fashioned flowers, leisurely in style, make them unique. They welcome pollinators as the buds open fully too. Search out (and smell!) ‘Old Pink Moss’, ‘Shailer’s White Moss’ or ‘Nuits de Young’.

The Emily Bronte in the Rosary, image by Jo Finn

Whilst the roses are certainly best experienced for their full fragrance and bloom in June, this area of the Garden holds year-round interest for visitors with it’s neat topiary and flowering shrubs including rhododendrons and the subtle colour in autumn from rose hips. It’s a peaceful, private space in a formal woodland setting overlooked by the grand doric column.

The Old Pink Moss in the Rosary, image by Jo Finn

Our historic rose garden continues to thrive and thankfully roses are equipped for our changing climate. They are reasonable drought-tolerant and require little irrigation. They are also excellent pollinators.

Visit The Rosary in June for the fully fragranced experience. The Gardens are open from 7am until dusk every day. Free entry. This month, roses will also feature in our flower bouquets for sale from the Conservatory Shop, open 11am-4pm, Thursday-Sunday.