Rose Garden - Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Rose Garden

Rose Garden

The Cranford Rose Garden has been one of BBG’s most popular attractions since it first opened in 1928. In June, when the roses are in full bloom, tens of thousands of blossoms cascade down arches, climb up lattices, clamber over the pavilion, and pose in formal beds. Here, in one of the largest collections in North America, thousands of rosebushes are cultivated, including wild species, old garden roses, hybrid teas, grandifloras, floribundas, polyanthas, hybrid perpetuals, climbers, ramblers, and miniatures. Some of the original roses planted in 1927 are still in the Rose Garden today.

Audio Spotlight

Listen along as director of Horticulture and expert rosarian Shauna Moore explores some highlights of the Cranford Rose Garden.

Read Transcript

Hi! I’m Shauna Moore, director of horticulture at Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

The Cranford Rose Garden has been one of the loveliest places to visit at Brooklyn Botanic Garden since it opened in 1928. I’ve admired this garden since I started loving roses too many years ago. Between late May and early June, the roses here really start to sing.

In the 1920’s, Walter Cranford, an engineer who built many of Brooklyn’s subways, donated $15,000 to plant a rose garden at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Today, many of these historic roses are still on display––and the Cranford Rose Garden is one of the broadest collections of rose species and cultivars in North America, hosting well over 5,000 individual plants.

The Cranford Rose Garden is laid out like a traditional rose garden, which means it contains almost exclusively roses. Around the perimeter, you’ll find some bulbs and other flowers mixed in to attract pollinators.

Roses fall into three broad categories: species roses, old garden roses, and modern roses. You'll find modern roses in the center plots, while the species and old garden roses are located along the perimeter.

A species rose is a rose just as nature made it. These typically just flower once per season, only with about five petals. Rosa carolina, which you can find on the northeast corner of the Rose Garden, is a beautiful species rose that’s native to North America.

On the south end of the Rose Garden, as well as around the perimeter, you will find my favorite roses: the old garden roses, also known as heritage or heirloom roses. An old garden rose is a species rose crossed with another species rose. Roses have been cultivated all over the world for thousands of years, likely beginning in China.

One class of old garden rose is the alba rose, which are some of the oldest of the old garden roses. They bloom early and just once each year, and are very fragrant. I love Rosa ‘Königin von Dänemark’ (or ‘Queen of Denmark'), which is on the eastern perimeter adjacent to Cherry Esplanade.

Another class of old garden rose is the Damask rose, which is the national flower of Iran. These are renowned for their fine fragrance. With the Damask roses, we start seeing some roses that bloom more than once a year. Rosa ‘Celsiana’, on the northwest corner of the garden, is a favorite Damask of mine.

The modern roses in the collection are just as important as the species roses and old garden roses. In 1867, rose breeder Jean-Baptiste Guillot introduced the first hybrid tea rose, which is considered the first modern rose. It had a repeat blooming pattern, which really changed everything in the rose world.

Modern roses bloom continuously throughout the season, and often have large blooms. They can be found in the middle plots, and consist of hybrid teas, floribundas, grandifloras, polyanthas, and many others.

Roses are known for being high maintenance and fussy, but some of the modern roses developed by breeders in recent decades have made growing roses easy and accessible to more people. These newer varieties are also tougher and more resistant to diseases.

Floribunda roses are easy to care for, and pretty disease-resistant. One of my favorite floribundas is named after Julia Child. Look for its beautiful yellow rose, which blooms almost constantly throughout the season.

The very popular shrub rose also belongs to the modern rose category. Shrub roses can be large and sprawling, and they're very vigorous and cold hardy. You’ll find shrub roses like Knockout around the Rose Arc, just south of the Rose Garden.

Thanks for joining me! And while you’re here, don't forget to stop and smell the roses.



See the Cranford Rose Garden at peak bloom!

Learn More

Bloom Alert: Rose Garden
Restoration of the Cranford Rose Garden
Rose Hips: Behold the Fruit of the Rose Plant
Fragrant Designs