Must-see rose gardensVisiting a rose garden can be a magical experience. Beautiful lush blooms create stunning scenery and waves of wonderful fragrance. Butterflies are numerous, birds sing and bees zip around the flowers.

Embark on your own adventure of discovery at some of America’s outstanding rose gardens.

The All-America Rose Selections program hosts a contest to choose America’s best rose gardens. Winners earn their place based on votes from visitors and rose enthusiasts. They are also judged by rosarians for overall garden beauty, creativity, condition and contributions to local communities.

Check out a few of these winners. To view a list of all 10 winning gardens, visit the All-American Rose Selections website.

San Jose Municipal Rose Garden, San Jose, Calif. (First place)

The 11-acre San Jose Municipal Rose Garden blends beautiful roses with a story of revival under the watchful care of volunteers who rescued the garden from poor care resulting from budget cuts. The garden has more than 4,000 roses.

Volunteers maintain the garden year-round, averaging a total of 150 hours per week. To learn more about volunteer efforts, visit their website. The garden was formally dedicated in 1937 and is open daily.

Dr. E.M. Mills Memorial Rose Garden, Syracuse, N.Y. (Second place)

More than 3,550 roses fill this 2-acre garden with a symmetrical design patterned after the beaux-arts style. Climbing roses on 10-foot arches complement pillar and standard roses, along with many other types of roses planted throughout the garden. Dedicated in 1924, the rose garden has a gazebo at its center.

Volunteers typically work at the garden on Wednesday mornings from mid-April to early November. Saturday workdays occur twice a year, in spring and fall, and include public rose care demonstrations.

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Rose Garden, Sarasota, Fla (Sixth place)

Located on 20 acres of waterfront property, the Ringling Rose Garden dazzles with its traditional Italian circular garden design. The rose garden hosts 1,200 roses on nearly two-thirds of an acre.

The garden was completed in 1913 and is part of an estate museum that includes an art museum, historic mansion, two circus museums and a theater. The estate also features the Dwarf Garden, Secret Garden and Millennium Tree Trail.

Garden Club of McKeesport Rose Garden, McKeesport, McKeesport, Pa. (10th place)

Established in 1933, the McKeesport Rose Garden is the second largest rose garden in Pennsylvania, boasting over 2,000 roses. The 3.5-acre garden also offers lush perennial beds, a butterfly garden and an herb garden. A cascading water feature and pond sparkle with waterlilies.

The Pittsburgh Rose Society conducts free rose pruning demonstrations in April, while garden volunteers meet every Wednesday from April to October. Victorian tea is served from June through September. Visit the garden website for information.

Other Terrific Rose Gardens

These gardens didn’t win awards in the All-America Rose Selections competition, but they’re tried-and-true favorites that always look top-notch.

White House Rose Garden
Since 1972, the White House has opened its gardens for public tours twice annually for two days each in spring and fall. In addition to the Rose Garden, the tour includes the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, Children’s Garden, South Lawn of the White House and the Kitchen Garden.

Free tickets are required and can be obtained through a state representative or at the Ellipse Visitor Pavilion (located at 15th and E streets). Learn more at the White House website.

Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden
Located at the New York Botanical Garden, the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden has more than 4,000 roses. The garden was originally designed in 1916 and redesigned in 2006-2007. Today it is part of the EarthKind rose trials, in which roses are grown without agricultural chemicals and with less irrigation. The garden is open from May through October, with roses in bloom during that time.

Rose Gardens at Disney
Whether you prefer Walt Disney World in Florida or Disneyland in California, you’ll find beautiful rose gardens. In Florida, look for the rose gardens in the Magic Kingdom, between Main Street and Cinderella Castle. The garden was established in 1980, and it’s a favorite spot for gentlemen about to pop the question. In California, look for the Rose Court Garden at the Disneyland Hotel to enjoy more than 800 roses and a fairy tale gazebo.

What You’ll Find at Public Gardens

  • Variety. Not only will you be amazed with the scope and variety of roses available, but you’ll also discover wonderful roses that thrive in your climate.
  • Partners. Roses don’t have to be planted solo. At public rose gardens, you’ll see beds of nothing but roses. You will also see great planting partners that make roses sing.
  • Design. Many public rose gardens feature intricate formal gardens. Others include more casual plans. Whatever your style, you’ll leave a rose garden inspired with great design ideas.
  • Education. Rose gardens typically offer educational demonstrations throughout the year related to topics like pest control or pruning. Ask about opportunities to learn.
  • Free. Most public gardens don’t charge entry fees, but do welcome donations, including your time. Ask about volunteer programs. Helping at a rose garden is a great way to hone your rose-growing and general gardening skills.