Whetstone Park of Roses Ilona Erwin Aug 6, 2009 6 Comments

Park of Roses Sign

This park is included in my top 10 garden destinations for the Central Ohio area with good reason. Why? Take a look at the collages and let me tell you the story.

My parents took me to this park when I was a little child more than fifty years ago now, and in a way, we have grown up together. The formal opening of the Columbus Park of Roses was in June, 1953. The park seemed to have a role in many of my personal landmarks through the years.

Let's take a little tour through the park and through time...

The parking lot is located below the park and is hidden from sight, two grand wide stairways lead you up to the recreation building, which often holds parties and in my teens was the spot for summertime dances. I listened to the local garage bands of the day and did my fair share of flirting. It was the mid sixties, just as the social upheavals of the times were simmering. The one story building had large doors opening onto open verandas - it was the perfect place for dancing under the summer evening sky; and those nights were an oasis of peace and love in a hot summer adolescence.

earth friendly garden Circling to the left you will find what was once the daffodil display garden back in the '90's and is now the "Earth Kind Rose Demonstration Garden". I noticed that they still have beds of daffodils with their markers surrounding the new rose beds.

Past the long "boulevard" beds, which once held a long display of all miniature roses and is now filled with a summer display of annuals, foliage plants and grasses, is the perennial garden. On the right, the sunny circle with bright garden perennials center around an armillary sundial; nearby it holds a small, quaintly Victorian iron gazebo within the shade portion. These areas have been now planted to minimize care, I see, reflecting the general sagging interest in complicated gardening (such as English manner perennial gardens). The gazebo is a pleasant place to sit and have quiet conversations- as well as a perfect photo background. Meandering back to the main entry path one travels just a bit to the herb garden.
perennial garden displays If I recall correctly this garden started sometime in the late seventies or eighties as an herb garden. It was about on par with the rising interest in homesteading and all the herbal fervor that accompanied the general interest in "getting back to the land". In the seventies I was beginning my family, living on a shoestring, and had begun my interest in plants via a jungle of houseplants and a nascent vegetable garden.

At first it was true to its herb garden roots, but as you can see in the pictures the increase of more ornamental and colorful plantings has slowly wedged itself in. The newest addition to the design is an artistically simple water basin. Located directly at the end of the axis centered by a large fountain, one begins to see the expanse of roses from the herb garden path which loops back into the main avenue of the landscape.
herb garden
Once the pathway turns toward the fountain one comes upon the vast array of roses, of all colors in a grand promenade to the top of the rise. At its pinnacle is an ironwork viewing tower, which upon climbing gives an inspiring overview of the roses en masse. Along all sides are large deciduous trees and handsome evergreens, enclosing the garden from any thoughts of the city or surrounding neighborhoods.

The last part of the park is reserved for the garden of heritage roses, blooming earlier, and over sooner than the rest of their hybrid progeny in the main portion of the park. I love the intimacy of this part of the garden, and like all good gardens it has a number of places of repose. Begun in the eighties, when antique roses waxed more popular in the garden world and tastes. This was the time when I was in my heyday of gardening, too.

everyone loves the roses

I was brought here to walk among the roses as a child, and as a young mother I brought my own young children here. It was always an inexpensive way to enjoy a night out... a walk through the park and a trip to get ice cream on the way home. Next to the rose garden is a wooded area where we followed a pathway and the children tried to balance their way across the creek on an old large sized pipe- the same one I had carefully traced in my youth. It leads back to the parking lot where we ended our pleasant outing.

Now the last of children are teens and we come on a summer evening to take our digital photos, and each time to have witnessed an outdoor wedding through the veil of the fountain. May their future have as many good memories of this lovely city rose garden as ours has.

Additional information:
Park of Roses
3901 North High Street

The Columbus Park of Roses is one of 133 AARS-approved public display gardens in the United States.

During World War II, more than 500 Victory Gardens were planted in the park.

The American Rose Society headquarters were located at the Columbus Park of Roses from 1952 to 1970.

Located within the Columbus community of Clintonville.

Be sure to see Park of Roses, Gardens in Ohio and A Botanical Wedding.
by Ilona Erwin

A gardener, blogger, writer, who has been blogging here since 2004, and writing for my website, Ilona's Garden since 1998.

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  1. Hi Ilona,
    Thanks for the wonderful write-up on Whetstone Park of Roses. I too went there with my parents when I was a child. My mother loved roses and now so do I. My husband and I were married there 27 years ago in October. All of the trees turned to their fall color that day. I'm sure it was just for us. LOL

  2. That is just amazing! We may have passed by each other...

  3. We may have indeed passed... I was the short blond girl giving a wrist watch to her father on his birthday in late June. It was his first. He had always carried a pocket watch until them. Mother and I decided it was high time. Remember me? LOL

  4. aaah whetstone!! park of many
    possibilities and great beauty.
    those weekend dances and the
    freedom to be out late.
    the park was eco-minded very
    early-on, with beautiful old "greenspace"-- the long bikepath
    that ran several miles along
    the riverbank, through the "civilized" park, then back into
    the wild. riding on through 5' stinging nettle patches navigated fast as you possibly could...that humid summery green smell of
    the deeper woods upriver. a great big-city park to grow up with.

    and then there were all
    the incredible rose gardens...

  5. Ilona2:58 PM

    Well, coneflower.. it probably is going to take dates and placenames to find out ;)

    Joanne... one positive thing about Columbus was the park system. In looking up history info I had no idea the park of roses was once a community garden area- how things that go around come around, with more interestn now in such projects ( altho this park itself will not return to that usage, I'm sure).

    If you make it to Ohio, we should surely meet up in one of the gardens (or even the zoo- that is so improved and full of garden interest). we can go get Thai or Chinese, too :)

  6. joanne7:40 AM

    if i had the cash to come to columbus, i'd spend it on mower and tiller repair... [sorry, Mom]


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