Bloomin tasty: Neil’s rose recipes ahead of Hever in Bloom

June 08 2022 | Garden

Head Gardener Neil Miller shares his `bloomin tasty’ rose recipes ahead of Hever in Bloom.

Did you know that the rose is related to the strawberry plant? Rose petals always make me peckish and this may be because they have been used in cooking for many a dish including fruit salads, cakes, biscuits, granola and ice cream.

Shrub roses are a good option for making rose oil and rose water to flavour foods and cosmetics, especially the Damask rose.

Visitors to Hever Castle will find our Damask roses in our border inspired by the American poet Emily Dickinson’s New England home.

In this area of the garden, close to the Festival Theatre, we faithfully chose roses grown in Emily’s garden including the Damask rose, Grenville rose, Hedgehog rose, Blush rose, Cinnamon rose, Galico rose and the Sweet Briar. We were able to incorporate all of these varieties in the border having sourced them online from Bill LeGrice Roses of Norfolk.

The first of the rose recipes I want to share is for rose water. Rose water is very simple to make and can be added to a multitude of different cake and biscuit recipes, you can even add it to herbal tea. The quickest way to create rose oil is to simmer rather than distil it though. It’s important only to use roses that haven’t been sprayed or treated with chemicals as these can make you ill. ONLY use organic roses for the following ingredients.

Rose Water recipe:

1. Pick your roses early in the morning when they’re at their most fragrant.
2. ONLY use organic roses that HAVE NOT been sprayed!
3. Damask roses are a good option – they have a wonderfully strong fragrance.
4. Measure 1/2 a cup of fresh roses petals and place in a saucepan.
5. Pour 1 – 1.5 cups of water on top
6. Cover and bring to the boil
7. Simmer until you see the colour fade from the petals
8. Put a lid on the saucepan and leave to cool completely
9. Strain the water through either a cheesecloth or thin strainer into a dark coloured bottle.
10. You can store this in the fridge for several weeks

Hever Rose Cupcakes

200g unsalted softened butter
200g caster sugar
1 tsp rose water
4 medium eggs
200 grams of self-raising flour
Butter icing:
200g cream cheese
100g unsalted butter
600g icing sugar
1 tsp icing sugar
1 tsp rose water

Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/ gas 4 and prepare your cupcake tin with cases.

Beat together the butter and caster sugar until light and fluffily then whisk in your cooled rose water. Beat in the eggs and then fold in the flour. Pipe your mixture into the cupcake cases then bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the cakes appear golden in colour.

Mix together the ingredients for your butter icing, then pipe on to the top of the cakes and finish with sugared rose petals.

Hever Rose Lemonade:

A quick and easy recipe with Monin’s rose syrup

Juice from 5 lemons
50g of caster sugar
tablespoon of boiling water
50ml Monin Rose Syrup
250ml of sparkling water
Lemon to garnish
ice – crushed or cubed

Dissolve the sugar with boiling water, and allow to cool. Juice your 5 lemons, sieve and then add to the sugar syrup. Slice lemon halves and add to a jug with crushed ice or ice cubes then add the rose syrup and stir. Add as much or as little sparking water as you desire. Serve!

Iced Rose Petals

These elegant iced rose petals make a wonderful decoration for rose flavoured cakes.


2 roses (they must be organic and unsprayed)
1 pasteurised egg white
Icing sugar

Gently wash the rose petals – be very careful though as they bruise easily – and leave to dry on blotting paper or a wire tray. Brush one side of the petals with beaten egg white then sprinkle with sugar. Dry them on a wire tray. Add to cakes and biscuits as decoration!

I hope you enjoy my rose recipes!

Shrub Rose Varieties at Hever Castle & Gardens:

Damask Rose (Rosa damascena)
The clusters of flattened rosettes on these ancient roses have made the plant popular for centuries in both the Middle East and in France

Greville Rose (Rosa multiflora grevillei)
Emily’s mother – Emily Norcross Dickinson – brought this rose with her to Amherst as a bride in 1828. This climbing rose with large double flowers has been dubbed the ‘7 sis-ters’ rose for its seven shades of pink.

Hedgehog Rose (Rosa rugosa rubra)
A native of northern china and the archipelago of Japan, this princely rose has wrinkled glossy green leaves. It’s a no fuss rose that’s tough, but it does require good drainage.

Blush Rose (Rosa “Old Blush”)
A Chinese rose introduced abroad in the 1740s, this vigorous shrub with lilac flowers in soft clusters loses its petals quickly but gives a good orange rose hip in the autumn.

Cinnamon Rose (Rosa cinnamomea)
This is a good example of a ‘Love-for-a-day’ rose.

Galico Rose (Rosa gallica “versicolo”)
This rose is striped with pink, white and magenta and has variegated petals.

Sweetbrier Rose (Rosa eglanteria)
Shakespeare was taken with this rose, and he has Titania sleep below it in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The leaves, when rubbed, emit the fragrance of sliced apples and the rose produces good ruby hips in autumn.

Discover more about this year’s Hever in Bloom here.

View a gallery of photos from Hever in Bloom on Hever Castle’s Pinterest.