Rose Garden

In the Rose Garden at Boerner Botanical Gardens   "Break not the rose;
its fragrance and beauty are surely sufficient;
Resting contented with these,
never a thorn shall you feel."

John Hayt "Distichs" (1871)

or centuries, summer has been the season of the rose. In medieval times it was such a popular flower that it was referred to as 'Flos Florum', meaning flower of flowers, a symbol of both earthly and heavenly perfection. In modern times the rose continues to reign supreme as a symbol of purity and a joy to the gardener. So it is in the Botanical Gardens' Rose Garden, where the peak bloom usually occurs each year during the third week of June, continuing until frost.

Stone and Wood Arbor at Boerner Botanical Gardens

The formal Rose Garden opened in 1939. It was designed along traditional lines, with gravel walks through the garden and grass walks among the beds. A massive stone and wood arbor (shown above) was constructed south of the Rose Garden. The stone pillars of the arbor support climbing roses, which stretch to reach the sky and sunshine above. On the north side of the rose garden, posts and chains support climbing roses and clematis vines, which are brilliant with color. To the west is a panorama of meadow and woodland, which helps give the rose garden its evergreen look. Many of the roses planted in the rose garden were provided by Eugene Boerner, Alfred Boerner's brother and a nationally known rose expert.

In keeping with the formal European look, the Rose Garden was designed with several pools. There are two ornamental circular pools and a rectangular central pool containing water-lilies and other aquatic plants. The rectangular pool has traditionally featured goldfish, but in 1988 koi, colorful oriental domestic fish, were introduced to the pool. The koi overwinter indoors.

Although the formal design of the Rose Garden has not changed since its construction, the rose beds themselves have gone through change. Through the years specific types of roses have come and gone. Some of the beds have been enlarged, and some have been reduced. But all in all, the design of the rose garden that we see today is the design visitors saw 50 years ago.

Since 1958 the Botanical Gardens have been one of 23 official U.S. test gardens for the America Rose Selections. The actual testing takes place in the Trial Gardens. There the most promising developments of rose hybridizers are tested for a two year period. Only after this test period can a rose obtain the near perfect scores required to be awarded the coveted title "All America." Each year the All America rose selections are proudly displayed in the rose garden, which is an official display garden for All America Rose Selections. The rose testing and display currently at the Botanical Gardens have moved the Gardens into the forefront of the horticultural world and given the Gardens well-deserved national recognition.

The garden displays the finest of the new along with some of the still unsurpassed older varieties. Today the Rose Garden contains an inventory of more than 3000 plants of approximately 350 varieties, including the most popular rose types: the well known hybrid Teas, Floribundas, Grandifloras, miniatures and tree roses. The garden also contains lesser known types such as hybrid Perpetual, Chinas, and Polyanthas, climbers and shrub roses.

In the center of the meadow west of the rose garden is the August Peter Memorial Shrub Rose Collection. This garden was planted as a tribute to the memory of August Peter, one of the founders of the Milwaukee Rose Society and its first president. Peter had a lifelong interest in the development and study of 'old' roses, which are the older shrub-like varieties of rose. Go the next garden

Boerner Botanical Gardens
9400 Boerner Drive, Hales Corners, WI 53130
(414) 525-5600

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