Well-known Highgate residents plant roses in Waterlow Park in moving tribute to loved ones

Loved ones were remembered and birthdays celebrated as well-known Highgate faces came together for a moving morning of rose planting.

Residents were out in force in Waterlow Park to mark the replanting of the park’s rose circle on Sunday.

Friends of Waterlow Park had offered residents the chance to sponsor a rose for a special occasion or person on their website, an offer which was taken up in full with more than 60 roses bought and ready to plant on the day.

Among the residents planting on Sunday was writer and charity founder Marjorie Wallace, 68, who was joined by her son Sacha Skarbek, a Grammy-nominated songwriter, and his four-year-old daughter Cora.

Ms Wallace, a former Sunday Times journalist and founder of mental health charity SANE, dedicated her rose to her partner, broadcaster Tom Margerison, who recently celebrated his 90th birthday.

But the rose planting took on some added poignancy which Ms Wallace was not expecting.

She said: “A lady came up to me and said, ‘You run SANE, it’s amazing you’re here. I’ve got some money, I was going to send some money to the charity.’

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“Her son had committed suicide at the age of 40 and she wanted to give the donations collected at his funeral to the charity. She also planted a rose in his memory. I thought that was exceptionally moving. It was a very beautiful moment.”

There was another moving tribute from Jacquie Richardson, 68, well-known organiser of Highgate’s Fair in the Square festival, who dedicated a rose to her late husband Doug, who died suddenly in October.

She said: “He died and we were utterly and completely stunned and then I got an e-mail from the Friends of Waterlow Park [about sponsoring a rose].

“We always went to Waterlow Park. We went three times a week and had a cup of coffee in the tea place. We absolutely loved it. It’s just the most beautiful park and it’s just down the road.

“It was serendipitous that that e-mail arrived. I don’t want a bench, but a rose bush seemed like a really fitting tribute, a lasting memorial.

“The first time I met Doug, he sent me a dozen roses and he would always buy me roses.”

Highgate couple John and Ginnie Cummings made it a family affair by joining their daughter Katie in the park to see her plant a rose they had bought for her as a birthday present.

The project to prepare the bed for planting was undertaken by volunteers organised by the Friends of Waterlow Park.

This work was started last year and 30 rose bushes were chosen by the volunteers and planted last November.