Influential gardeners have paid their respects to world-famous rose breeder Peter Beales, who died on 26 January aged 76, following a long illness.

The late Peter Beales

Peter, chairman of Peter Beales Roses of Norfolk, founded the company in 1968 and developed a range of over 1,000 roses.

Over 300 are unique to Peter’s collection. Last year, he unveiled the ‘Queen’s Jubilee Rose’ for the Diamond Jubilee (pictured).

Peter’s wife Joan died last September and his family said he “never truly recovered from the loss of his soil mate of over 51 years”.

Peter’s son Richard said: “He was a man of huge personality, knowledge and experience.”

On completion of National Service, Peter became manager at Hillings Rose Nursery under leading rose expert Graham Stuart Thomas.

Over his career, Peter won 19 RHS gold medals at Chelsea Flower Show.

Her Majesty was presented with the Queen’s Jubilee Rose in 2012

In 2003 Peter received the Victoria Medal of Honour from the RHS and in 2005 he received an MBE.

Gardening pundit Peter Seabrook said: “If you want to trace Peter’s remarkable rose-growing career, I recommend strongly his autobiography, Rose Petals and Muddy Footprints. What a man.”

Gardeners’ World presenter Monty Don Tweeted: “No-one knew more about roses, loved them more or shared that love with more wisdom.”

TV gardener Toby Buckland added: “I’ve grown many of the great man’s roses. Peter exuded passion for his work. His loss will be felt across the rose world.”

Alan Titchmarsh said Peter had made a “unique” contribution to rose-growing. He told BBC News: “It was the old and classic roses that Peter loved best and by growing them and making them available to a wider range of gardeners, he did tremendous work in terms of our rose-growing heritage.

“His influence lives on, and I shall remember fondly a great gardener and an affable man,” Alan added.

The Royal Horticultural Society paid tribute, too. RHS shows director Stephen Bennett said: “Peter was an accomplished and respected exhibitor at shows such as Chelsea from 1971.

“His memory will live on through the roses he helped to bring to prominence in the UK and overseas.”