June is for Roses at the Morris Arboretum

One of the most historically significant and beloved garden areas at the Morris Arboretum is the Rose Garden, and the month of June is the perfect time to observe its full glory. Created in 1888, the Rose Garden is one of the oldest features of the Morris estate. Originally comprised of fruits, vegetables, flowers, a few roses, and a specimen chestnut tree, Lydia Morris transformed this mixed garden into a Rose Garden in 1924. Once the roses were fully established, they became a favorite of Lydia’s. Every day in the summer, a bouquet of roses was brought to her—but only after the thorns had been removed.

The Rose Garden has witnessed many revisions and transformations throughout the years. By the mid-1960s, the garden was showing dramatic signs of neglect. A restoration in the early ‘70s included the planting of more than 2,000 roses in the garden. In the 1990s, a mixed planting scheme was introduced to provide more visual interest when the roses were not actively blooming.

Last year, several improvement projects were undertaken to further enhance the garden’s beauty and enrich the visitor experience. A seated retaining wall, new staircases, and slate plazas were added, and the surrounding rose beds were redesigned to complement these elements. The new beds include heirloom roses that would have been contemporaries of John and Lydia Morris and serve to preserve the historic nature of the garden. The new roses were selected for both beauty and fragrance. Thanks to recent advances in propagation, more roses are now being produced that are both disease-resistant and fragrant, allowing for more enticing varieties to be included.

With 20 climbing rose varieties and 12 shrub roses, to perennials, annuals, and woody plants that complement the roses, the design transitions seamlessly with adjacent garden areas by echoing the colors, textures, and plant selections. Areas leading into the Rose Garden feature perennial plants and roses that mirror the color scheme of the interior beds. Exiting the garden towards the Herb Garden, a palette of fragrant plants along the edge of the new retaining wall provide a sweet scent to visitors who pause there. Morris Arboretum invites all visitors to pause…and smell the roses this June!  Advance tickets required. Reserve early. Morrisarboretum.org