Belfast Telegraph

Rose Week bathes Belfast Lady Dixon's Park in bouquet of 45,000 glorious blooms

It's one of the best rose gardens in the world – boasting no less than 45,000 blooms.

Every existing type of rose in the world is on display at Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park in south Belfast where thousands of visitors, both international and local, are converging this week.

The much-loved annual Rose Week got under way yesterday with visitors and petals alike being blessed with warm sunshine and dry conditions.

Indeed, the warm weather arrived just in time to give the elegant flowers the boost they need after such a long and cool spring.

Northern Ireland has a rich heritage in rose breeding, dating back to the 19th century, so Rose Week is an ideal event to show off the impressive array of blooms.

A member of the Rose Society of Northern Ireland, Janet Ferrett, said the hot weather has arrived just in time for the "queen of the flowers" in the park's International Rose Garden, which suffered after a frosty spring.

"The roses have been very slow to bloom because of the cold weather but have come on beautifully recently. Right now, as the roses are all in bloom, the garden is a magnificent sight," she added.

Janet said the event is a chance for those who have been growing trial roses to show them off and perhaps win an award for their efforts.

She said that 24 official judges from all over the world will evaluate trial roses based on their colour, fragrance, beauty and resistance to weather-damage among other things.

The judging will take place this Thursday and will be followed by an awards ceremony at Belfast City Hall.

The event runs until Saturday and is not just about roses, with family entertainment and fun also laid on.

"There really is something for everyone with live music, a bouncy castle, dance workshops and craft stalls. We are now also accessible to wheelchair and mobility scooter users. This event is definitely a highlight of the Northern Ireland events calendar," Janet added.

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.

Janet's husband George explained the origins of the society and Rose Week.

"Lady Dixon handed over the park land at the front of her house to Belfast City Council which originally wanted to build a football pitch on it," he said.

"However, as the ground isn't flat it was unsuitable so the decision was made to create a rose garden there."

He added: "The Rose Society was formed and we have been holding Rose Week every July since."

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