I first visited the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) in September of 2010. I was awed by much that I saw, including the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden.
By September there certainly wasn’t much to see in the way of blooms.
But the grand scope of the place–1.04 acres (4200 square meters) dedicated to nothing but roses–made me declare that I had to come back during rose season and see the spectacle for myself.
It was June 14, 2017, when I finally made my way back:
There were blooms on top of blooms, in colours both pale and bright, from fenced edge to fenced edge. It did not disappoint.
It was an experience to walk among “more than 3,000 roses representing more than 700 different species, hybrids, and cultivated roses” during peak bloom.
I didn’t know whether to try to take in the overall abundance or focus on the individual, exquisite blooms.
I settled on trying to do both.
I would have loved to spend the whole day with the lens of my camera in the face of one bloom after another, but it was hot. Really hot. That’s the thing about roses; to grow well they need hours of direct, hot, unrelenting sun, and that’s what this location receives. The football-field-sized garden is as wide open as any farmer’s field, baking human visitors in the 84°F (29 °C) heat on the day we were there.
The roses, meanwhile, danced with delight in the sun.
I extended my visit by retreating to the shade for a time. There are a few prime spots nearby for respite:
It’s the gardener’s dilemma; we curse the rain for interrupting our gardening plans and then damn the sun for making it too hot to work. As a photographer, that day I was also lamenting that the unrelenting brightness was washing out my pictures, and resorted to snapping rapidly any time a cloud provided momentary relief.
I noted with appreciation that all of the roses in the garden are labelled, not just with their varietal name but also with their type, hybridizer and, for recent introductions, their year and country of hybridization. The one shown above and below this paragraph, for example, was listed as a floribunda rose by the name of Candy Cane Cocktail, hybridized by Meilland in France in 2016.
It was stunning. As were most of the hundreds of other varieties. I didn’t note the names of most of them, a decision I’m regretting now as I sort through my photos and see unusual roses like this red one, unique in that it has a lighter shade on the underside of its petals:
Its name is likely contained somewhere in the lengthy online list the NYBG provides, although the list doesn’t seem to have been updated since 2013.
Since I didn’t visit the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden to scout for roses for my own garden (although one certainly could use that as the purpose of a trip) but to just enjoy the roses for their beauty, I’m not going to fixate on trying to figure out what each is named. I’m just going to be thankful that I had the opportunity to experience and photograph the bountiful blooms in this garden.
If you enjoy roses I highly recommend a trip to this garden. Pick an overcast day and take the time to stop and smell the roses!
History of the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden: