The Heritage Rose Garden is our garden of exceptionally old varieties of roses, with some roses that predate 1867. Heritage Roses, also called Old Garden Roses (OGR), include Species (wild), Albas, Bourbons, Centifolias, Damasks, Chinas, Gallicas, Hybrid Perpetuals, Moss, Noisettes, Portlands, and Teas (not to be confused with Hybrid Teas).
This area was a test garden created for the AARS (All American Rose Selection) in 1938, and was mostly planted with hybrid teas. The garden beds were four-foot squares that accommodated four bushes of each test variety. There were also commercial varieties in this area. It was called the Little Rose Garden and the Heirloom Garden. In the 1980s, the squares were elongated into rectangles with the idea it would be easier to maintain
In 2009, the Connecticut Valley Garden Club committed to renovate the Heritage Rose Garden as part of their 2017 centennial project. The new garden has gone considerably further back in time and includes the Apothecary's Rose, which was developed before 1240 and is thought to have been brought to France by a returning crusader. It also includes Madame Zoetman's, Tuscany Superb, Henri Martin, Empress Josephine, Rose du Roi, and Camaieux, which are rarely grown elsewhere.
In the new garden, there are five raised beds edged in stonewalls that form the outline of a five-petal rosette. The rosette symbolizes a centifolia, a 100-petaled rose, which is typical of heritage roses. The garden is enclosed with a post and metal fencing with climbing roses and gravel paths that are handicap accessible. A stunning forty-foot stonewall serves as a retaining wall and backdrop for the Park’s newest renovated garden.
There are very few heritage rose gardens in the country. Heritage roses bloom once in mid-June with a wonderful strong fragrance that fills the entire garden.