Archive for the ‘Public rose gardens’ Category

1.1 -Entrance-Gate

Entrance to Queen Mary’s Rose Garden

Our visit to England this past June was timed so we could enjoy the rose gardens, none of which were in bloom on our previous trip when we traveled to London to see the Chelsea Flower Show in May. This time our timing was perfect — the 3rd and 4th week in June.


Map of Regent’s Park

One of the gardens we planned to see was Queen Mary’s Rose Garden in Regent’s Park, located in northwest London near Baker St. and the Sherlock Holmes Museum. The 410 acre park is also home to the London Zoo, numerous playgrounds, a boating lake and Open Air Theatre. But our primary destination was the Rose Garden, created in the 1930’s, which is located in the Inner Circle of the park.

It was a beautiful, sunny day, surprisingly one of many rainless days we enjoyed while in England, when we arrived by taxi which dropped us off at one of the gated entrances to the Rose Garden. Our entrance through the gates led us to a circular path through the rose garden. While we had anticipated an impressive June Bloom, the garden exceeded our expectations.


Ingrid Bergman

The winding paths led us from rose bed to rose bed and with approximately 12,000 roses on display, the numerous (85) single varieties planted within the garden was overwhelming. Each rose bed had mass plantings of one variety and the effect was stunning. I find that photographs don’t always capture the impact that can be seen only in person. Such was the case with not only Queen Mary’s Rose Garden as a whole, but with the massive bed of Ingrid Bergman, a dark red hybrid tea in full flush, that created an eye-catching display.


Double Delight

We saw some familiar roses like ‘Double Delight’ that was at its perfect stage of bloom and showed off its lipstick-edged petals perfectly. There was a large bed of roses that we recognized as ‘Hot Cocoa’, which we grow in our garden, but labeled as ‘Hot Chocolate’ in Queen Mary’s Garden. ‘Hot Cocoa’ was hybridized by Tom Carruth when he worked for Weeks Roses in California and we were pleased to see an American bred rose among those on display in Queen Mary’s Garden.


Hot Chocolate aka Hot Cocoa


The rose bed that attracted the most attention — everyone wanted to have their photo taken in front of — was the bed of ‘You’re Beautiful’. We had to wait and wait until people finished posing in front of these roses before we could have a clear view. Mike finally got the photo below. The bed had close to 50 rose bushes of ‘You’re Beautiful’ and each was in bloom!


You’re Beautiful


I was attracted to the colorful bed of ‘Tintinana’, a rose I had never seen, but if we grew hybrid tea roses, I wouldn’t mind having in our garden.



Another unfamiliar rose I photographed is ‘Jam and Jerusalem’, displaying such a beautiful spray of roses too perfect to ignore.


Jam and Jerusalem

There was a large bed of assorted David Austin Roses that contained many familiar DA varieties and I was able to capture this beautiful bloom of Lady Emma Hamilton.


Lady Emma Hamilton


Some roses on display, like ‘Gorgeous’, a Poulsen rose, are not available in the United States. From information I gathered on-line, it is available for sale on web sites in the UK. This rose has amazing, multi-colored (orange, pink and yellow), very large blooms with dark green foliage. My research said that ‘Gorgeous’ needed no pesticides because of its disease resistance. We can hope that some day it will be introduced in the US, although it may be under a different name.




The park was filled with families and couples lounging on chairs, ready to spend the day. Benches were available, too, but many people had brought blankets to spread on the grass as well as picnic lunches. There are several cafes and kiosks available within the park and Mike and I stopped at the Boat House Cafe to get a cold drink (and ice cream) before we made another tour of the rose garden.


Hot Cocoa, Easy Going and Me

As we strolled through the park, we were impressed, given the size of the crowd, with the cleanliness and order in the park — no litter nor stomping through flower beds — Londoners and tourists just enjoying a Saturday in the park.

The vast collection of roses and the obvious upkeep to keep them looking their best made Queen Mary’s Rose Garden in Regent’s park one of the most impressive rose gardens we have seen and definitely one of the highlights of our time in London.

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View from the Top

Roseto di Roma

It’s hard to believe that a month has gone by since our trip to Italy, but the best part about travel is reminiscing about all the great sights we have seen long after the trip is over. I keep a travel journal, knowing that with passing time I’ll forget details. But we won’t forget the sights in Rome (the first leg of our trip) such as the Trevi Fountain, ancient Roman ruins and our inspiring visit to the Vatican and the incredible Sistine Chapel. Plus there was the delicious Italian food and wines. But especially memorable and unforgettable is Il Roseto (Rose Garden), Rome’s Municipal Rose Garden that contains over 1100 roses in bloom and the ruins of the Circus Maximus as its back drop.

Sign Primio Roma Rose We had planned our itinerary, hoping the weather would cooperate, and scheduled our visit to Il Roseto after a tour of Ancient Rome, knowing it was a short walk from the Colosseum. Before leaving home I did some research and was fascinated to learn that this rose garden, which originally was located closer to the Colosseum and Palatine Hill, has ties to the United States. An American, Mary Gayley Senni from Pennsylvania, married to an Italian Count, gave a gift of 300 roses to the city of Rome in the early 1930’s to create Rome’s first public rose garden. Unfortunately, that rose garden was a casualty of World War II, but it was later resurrected in its present location on the slopes of Aventine Hill across from the Circus Maximus.

Upper Garden

Il Roseto is a garden divided into two gated sections with each section separated by the road, Via di Valle Murcia. The upper section holds the garden’s collection of roses from European countries as well as countries from all over the world including the United States and Canada. The garden has quite a history as it sits on a site that was once a Jewish cemetery dating back to 1645. The cemetery closed in 1895 due to road construction and the graves were moved to another cemetery. It then became a public park and in 1950 the home of Il Roseto when the city of Rome was looking for a new location for Countess Senni’s original rose garden. The garden paths are laid out in the shape of a menorah and the ancient cypress trees from the old cemetery still grow as reminders of the garden’s history.

Paul's Himalayan Musk

Paul’s Himalayan Musk

Another distinctive feature of this garden is the way the roses are displayed. There are no rose beds per se. Instead roses are planted one by one on the broad grassy slopes of the garden as well as along fences and on trellises. It was peak bloom time in Rome and in the upper section we saw magnificent roses such as Paul’s Himalayan Musk, growing skyward with a profusion of blooms. An amazing sight. We saw many familiar varieties such as Austin’s Crown Princess Margareta and were pleased to see other varieties that were less well-known like Jean Cocteau from Meilland, Purple Rain from Germany’s Tantau and Poulsen’s Lea, one of their Renaissance varieties. Il Roseto’s collection also includes a small section of species roses such as Rosa phoetida and Rosa chinesis mutabilis.

Throughout the garden were many benches where visitors could rest and enjoy the view and peacefulness of the garden. What made this garden truly special, though, was that from the top of the garden we had a spectacular view of not only the rose garden and the very old cypress trees below us, but ancient Roman ruins as well. To us, this was Rome at its best, away from the hustle and noise of the busy streets and the reality of Rome in the 21st century.

Lower SectionUnfortunately, the lower section of the garden was closed the day we were there because it was being prepared for the Premio Roma Rose competition, the second oldest in the world, which was to take place two days after our visit. But if we had been able to view this section, we would have seen not only the roses entered in this year’s competition, but also a collection of previous winners. However, I was able to fit my camera in between the bars of the fence and at least take some photos.

We wished we could have gone back to see the winners of the competition, but our time was limited and we were off to Florence – Firenza – for the second part of our Italian journey and another fantastic rose garden. But that’s a post for another day.

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St. Peter's Square

St. Peter’s Square

Mike and I are going to Italy in a few months so we have been following the Papal election with great interest. We’ll be in Rome for 5 days and had planned on spending an entire day at the Vatican. When the surprising news of Pope Benedict’s retirement blanketed the news media, we eagerly focused on all the news footage and every photo knowing that we would be in those exact same places in a matter of weeks. We were fascinated with the quick renovations to the Sistine Chapel as it was modified for the election. We waited patiently, along with the massive crowds in St. Peter’s Square, for smoke to appear out of that little chimney. All this made us even more enthusiastic, if that was possible, for our first visit to the Eternal City.

Swiss Guards

Swiss Guards

One of the tours we’re especially looking forward to is the Vatican Museum, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. I’m sure there are many disappointed tourists who were not able to view the spectacular murals on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel when it was closed during the Conclave.

Besides the Vatican, there is plenty for two visitors from New England to see in Rome. We’ll spend most of a day in Ancient Rome, visiting the Coliseum, the Forum and Palatine Hill. We discovered that Rome has a Municipal Rose Garden that is open daily from early May to late June while the roses are in bloom; it then closes for the year. (It may open again during the second bloom cycle, sometime in August, but this is not always the case.)  From what I can find out about this rose garden, it was built in 1931 and open in 1932. It was Rome’s first roses-only garden and has over 100 varieties. It’s opposite the Circus Maximus near Palatine Hill, although my understanding is that it’s on Aventine Hill.



We’ll let you know after we visit and will share some of our photos. We will also keep an eye peeled for small intimate gardens that are nestled into courtyards, churchyards, and tiny public spaces. In the past we have discovered these little gems by chance but now we are on the look-out for this sort of matchbox horticulture in our travels, especially in old European cities. If anyone knows of any special gardens we could visit while in Rome or Florence, please let us know.

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

We will do all the “touristy” things when in Italy and take in the must-see sites such as the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. We’ll also visit the famous Borghese Museum with Bernini’s iconic marble statue of David and works by Caravaggio, Titian and Rubens. We’ll shop at the Campo de’ Fiori, a fruit and vegetable market that opens every morning. In the evenings, we plan to stroll about town eating ice cream – excuse me, gelato – and then have delicious meals in small cafes. We will be Romans for a week.

Now that the excitement generated by the selection of the new pope has started to abate, Vatican City and the rest of Rome will be back to normal when we arrive and we’ll have it all to ourselves – well, almost all to ourselves. We’ll post details of our Roman Holiday after we head off into the Tuscan sun towards Siena and Florence through the vineyards of Chianti onto the second leg of the trip.


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Dortmund in Bloom at Clayton Garden

Mike and I have been cleaning up our rose gardens in preparation for winter. We’ve replaced a few older roses, removed some day lilies, divided and transplanted others, and planted bulbs – daffodils and blue globe onions (allium caeruleum). Our horse manure has been delivered and stored in the back of the garden. Now we’re just waiting until the weather turns consistently colder so we can hill-up the base of each rose bush with the manure as winter cover.

Clayton Sustainable Rose Garden

Meanwhile we’ve attended two Garden Closings — the Chet Clayton Sustainable Rose Garden at the University of RI and the Roger Williams Park’s Victorian Rose Garden in Providence. The schedule for closing these public rose gardens are determined months in advance and it’s very difficult to change dates at the last minute if the weather does not cooperate. In this case, despite the warm weather, the gardens got closed when they did because that’s when the volunteers were available.

Deanne, one of the Project Leaders and Mike

The Chet Clayton Sustainable Rose Garden at the University of RI is maintained by University of Rhode Island Master Gardener volunteers who do a great job taking care of this garden. The Clayton Garden is ending its seventh season and continues to thrive as an excellent example of sustainable rose gardening.

Volunteers Adding Manure

The day of the closing was October 29, the Saturday of the big storm that brought serious early season snow to northern RI and surrounding MA and CT. Still, Master Gardener volunteers came out despite the forecast and, with Mother Nature patiently waiting until we were done, we managed to winterize the garden before the maelstrom roared in that afternoon. As you can see from the photos, the climbers, as well as many of the other roses, were still blooming, flummoxed by the warm temperatures.

Hilled Up rose

On Saturday, November 12 we had a beautiful, sunny day to close the Roger Williams Park’s Victorian Rose Garden in Providence. RI Rose Society members, along with the public (who are always welcome to attend meetings to learn how to care for roses), lightly pruned roses that needed it, filled wheel barrows with horse manure from the Providence Mounted Command horse stables, and hilled up the 500+ roses in the garden.

Mike with Manny "Big Boy" Mendes

At lunchtime, there was plenty of socializing during the “Chili Cook-Off” that’s become an annual event of the Rose Society.

President of RI Rose Society, Dacia Nickerson with Vice President Frank Karikas

The meeting ended with the rose raffle — donated potted roses and other plants (Mike and I brought the daylilies from our garden) plus garden items. Mike won and chose a small climber called Morning Magic.  If you live close enough to Providence, try to join us at Roger Williams Park when we open the garden in April. It’s a lot of fun, the members are friendly, and you’ll learn a lot, not only about rose horticulture, but also how various varieties perform in a public garden that receives no pesticide intervention.

Donated Plants

We plan to winterize our gardens on Thanksgiving weekend – we’re hoping for cold and clear weather.

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Rideau Hall Guide

 On our second day in Ottawa, Angie and I headed out to the Canadian Heritage Garden at Rideau Hall, an easy drive from our hotel and located not far from Parliament Hill. Rideau Hall is the Canadian governor-general’s official residence and is surrounded by bucolic grounds – trees, meandering paths, rolling lawns and the Canadian Heritage Rose Garden – all open to the public.

This rose garden was inaugurated in June, 2000 and implemented Alvin Regehr’s bold design “that uses roses to symbolize Canadian ancestral groups and historical events.” Claire Laberge, our friend from the Montréal Botanical Garden,  due to her growing national reputation, had been invited to select the rose varieties for this national garden. Her challenge was to select as many native Canadian varieties as possible as well as roses that illustrated the many immigrant contributions that flavor Canadian society.

The morning was cool and cloudy and we found a free parking space on the street in front of the entrance gate and considered ourselves lucky. As we walked toward the gate, it started to rain. Lucky us.

We were warmly greeted at the entrance by a cheerful guide undaunted by the weather dressed in a bright red blazer and standing her post under a large blue umbrella. The rose garden was just down the path, can’t miss it, she said, and off we went with our cameras tucked under our jackets to keep them dry.

The garden, mostly shrub and old garden roses, had peaked two weeks prior to our visit, around June 15, and clearly had gone-by when we arrived. This is the same time our rose gardens had peaked over 450 miles south and east in much warmer USDA zone 6b. I saw no obvious micro-climate reason to justify this. I will ponder this seeming anomaly.

Wrought Iron Arbors & Obilisks

Regardless, the footprint and hardscape were impressive. Wrought iron arbors and obelisks gave the garden the vertical element necessary to every successful rose garden. The paths were pea stone gravel which I liked very much – the soft crunch of each step adding pleasing audio to the visual.

Sunken Bed of Nearly Wild

Interestingly, the beds were sunken, not raised, and were lined with granite blocks. In lieu of traditional plant markers, the names of every variety were engraved in the granite blocks, literally carved in stone. I wondered how they will change anything. Three young gardeners were busy primping and grooming the garden presumably for the visit of William and Kate two days hence.

Engraved Granite

Angie in the Rain

By now the rain was pouring and we hustled back to the main gate and gift shop. The steadfast guide was helping a bus-load of visitors, slipping easily from English to French and back again. (We see this fluent bi-lingualism everywhere we’ve gone in eastern Canada both in French Quebec and English Ontario. I envy this.)  I chatted with the guide, quizzing her on Canadian history and found myself out-gunned. She was ready for any questions I had … a capable and delightful young woman.

We decided that a rainy day was a lousy time to walk through gardens but a great time to walk through a museum.  We headed over to the National Gallery of Canada, a short distance away, to catch the Caravaggio exhibit.

Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Rubens, Monet, Cezanne, Van Gogh, O’Keefe and Pollock – a very decent way to spend a rainy afternoon.

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La Roseraie at the Montreal Botanical Garden

Angie and I visited La Roseraie, the rose garden in the Montreal Botanical Garden, while in Montreal in late June on the second leg of our 8-day trip to Canada.   We met once again with our friend, rose garden director Claire Laberge, who took us around the garden pointing out the changes since our last visit in 2007.

The roseraie, one of the largest public rose gardens in North America, occupies almost 15 acres with over 10,000 roses representing 900 varieties of modern, old garden, and species roses. It has a distinct European garden feel that starts with the crouching lion guarding the entrance. This 4000 lb. bronze sculpture, a gift from the city of Lyon, makes a strong visual impression as you enter the garden and sets the tone for the rest of the visit.

Winding Path through the Garden

Beyond the lion is the first of several large wrought iron arbors. This arbor signals the entrance into the ornamental section, the first of two major areas. This first section, inspired by the nearby St. Lawrence River, is laid out as a “river of roses” with mass plantings of modern roses flowing around islands of trees and shrubs, a symbolic interpretation of Canadian scenery. Popular modern roses – hybrid teas, grandifloras, floribundas, and climbers – are planted in elegant beds along a series of winding paths.

Kordes Test Roses

The second section is where the historical collections of shrub roses, old garden roses and species roses are planted. A very comprehensive collection of modern shrub roses include the work of Canadian and American hybridizers as well as David Austin, Meilland, and Poulsen. Claire showed us a new test bed of very attractive Kordes shrub roses that were planted last year and tolerated the Montreal winter with no casualties.

All gardens change with time; some changes are subtle. Since the MBG decided to discontinue the use of chemical pesticides 10 years ago, we noticed nice but disease-prone varieties have been gradually replaced with more sustainable roses.

Companion Plants

Other changes are more apparent. Claire told us that they had started to under-plant most of the beds in the old garden rose section with lavender, hyssop, and alliums several years ago. These companion plants serve as a living mulch, controlling weeds, attracting beneficial insects, and bringing the color blue into each bed. The lavender looked especially good and in the mid-day sun reminded us of impressionist paintings. We noted the plants and plan on using the same idea at home.

Claire left us at noon and we took a lunch break before retuning to the garden to take photos. It was the warmest day yet we had on the trip and the sun felt good. But the bright afternoon sun made for harsh lighting for garden photography – a fact we would remember next time.


On a side note, we walked over to the Japanese gardens and saw some outstanding Bonsais, some over 250 years old. The walls in this garden had unique moon gates that I really liked.

I’ve lost count of the number of times we have been to this superb rose garden and each time we enjoy it all over again. As we ate ice cream before we left, we were planning on the next leg of our trip. Off to Ottawa the next morning to Parliament Hill, Rideau Hall, Byward Market and the excellent National Gallery of Canada.

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Sunday, the day after our rose show in Rhode Island, we went to our 2ndrose show of the season sponsored by the Connecticut Rose Society in Elizabeth Park in Hartford CT. Mike, an American Rose Society horticultural judge, was one of the judges for the show.

Mike & Lee Judging

While Mike was judging, I strolled through the Elizabeth Park Rose Garden which has the distinction of being the oldest rose garden in the United States. Elizabeth Park has over 10,000 rose bushes, approximately 800 different varieties, including their trademark arches of rambling roses. These distinctive rows of arches, some dating back 100 years, are surrounded by rose beds and more roses scrambling up and over fences around the garden.

Very few public gardens can compete with the spectacle of roses in the Elizabeth Park Rose Garden.  Be sure to plan a visit, especially in June, to see an impressive display of roses in a traditional setting.

(Visit http://www.elizabethpark.org/ for more information.)


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