fb-pixel Skip to main content

Rejoice, because there are rose gardens nearby

The roses neared their annual peak this week at the James P. Kelleher Rose Garden in Boston.
The roses neared their annual peak this week at the James P. Kelleher Rose Garden in Boston.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

A single bouquet of roses is delightful but a garden of hundreds of rose bushes can be dazzling. This summer treat yourself with a visit to one of these fragrant and beautiful gardens, where everything is coming up roses.

Helen S Kaman Rose Garden (Hartford)

This is the Grande Dame of rose gardens in New England, the first municipal rose garden in the United States and the third largest rose garden in the country. It’s the centerpiece of Elizabeth Park, a magnificent display of more than 10,000 rose bushes and some 800 varieties. The rose garden is maintained by the Elizabeth Park Conservancy and named for Helen S Kaman, who was the conservancy’s first president in 1977.


The garden, which originally opened in June 1904, covers 2.5 acres with 475 beds and a center Rustic Summer House gazebo covered in Virginia creeper. Visit in mid-June to early July to see the rambling roses, hanging from towering arches, in full bloom. But no worries if your schedule doesn’t allow it; other roses continue to bloom until fall. 1561 Asylum Ave., West Hartford. 860-231-9443, www.elizabethparkct.org

James P. Kelleher Rose Garden (Boston)

Lyn Wojcik stopped to smell the roses this week at the James P. Kelleher Rose Garden in Boston.
Lyn Wojcik stopped to smell the roses this week at the James P. Kelleher Rose Garden in Boston. Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

Tucked behind a yew hedge, this enchanting English-style rose garden is a beautiful and quiet oasis in bustling Boston. Step inside the trellis gate and you’ll be surrounded by more than 1,500 roses, including some 200 varieties, all meticulously tended by volunteers.

The garden, founded in 1931, is in the 57-acre Back Bay Fens park, opposite the Museum of Fine Arts, and part of the Emerald Necklace, a 1,100-acre string of parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. There are pathways that meander around the roses, arches draped in ramblers, statues of cherubs, and a center fountain. Grab a seat on one of the benches and enjoy the beautiful sights and sweet scents. 73 Park Drive, Boston. 617-522-2700, www.emeraldnecklace.org


Rose Kennedy Rose Garden (Boston)

A visit to the Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park in the North End is a delightful excursion; it’s filled with flower beds, lawns, walking paths, trellises, and a family-favorite playground. It’s also home to this often-overlooked flamboyant rose garden.

Named after the mother of John F. Kennedy, who was born nearby, it’s located in the middle of the park. The garden also honors America’s Gold Star Mothers, a nonprofit organization honoring mothers of veterans lost in action. Rose Kennedy became a Gold Star Mother in 1944 when her oldest son, Joseph Patrick (Joe Jr.) Kennedy, was lost in action.

The garden, flanked by the bustling Boston Harbor waterfront and busy Atlantic Avenue, is tucked behind a wrought iron fence, and filled with beds brimming with a variety of rose bushes. Let the din of the waterfront park recede as you meander the colorful oasis. Atlantic Avenue, Boston. www.foccp.org

Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Garden Museum (New Bedford)

Named for the three prominent families who once lived here, this stately Greek Revival mansion was built by shipwrights in 1834, for whaling merchant William Rotch Jr. It sits atop a hill in New Bedford, overlooking the port below and is the only whaling mansion open to the public in New England that retains its original configuration of grounds and outbuildings.

A self-guided tour of the mansion is interesting, but don’t miss a visit to the sprawling, south side gardens, including a formal boxwood rose parterre garden, which was planted after Edward Coffin Jones bought the house in 1851. Today, the property includes the rose garden, a boxwood specimen garden with nearly 700 plants, a cutting garden, and the award-winning Woodlawn Garden, surrounding a 19th-century wooden lattice pergola. 396 County St., New Bedford. 508-997-1401, www.rjdmuseum.org


Fuller Gardens (North Hampton, N.H.)

Take a ride to the seacoast of New Hampshire to visit these lovely oceanfront gardens, with thousands of roses and hundreds of varieties. The formal rose gardens were created at the summer estate of Alvan T. Fuller, who founded the first auto dealership in Boston and also served as the lieutenant governor and governor of Massachusetts. Fuller hired the Boston-based Olmstead Firm to design the Colonial Revival-style gardens during the late 1920s to honor his wife, Viola.

Today, the well-groomed rose gardens are a delight to visit, with different varieties blooming from late June through October. The property also features a Japanese garden, which begins to bloom in May, perennial gardens that bloom spring through fall, and a dahlia display garden, in bloom all season. 10 Willow Ave., North Hampton, N.H. 603-964-5414, www.fullergardens.org

Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at bairwright@gmail.com