When the roses are in bloom—more than 5,000 of them—it’s hard to get beyond the shimmers of color and scent, the everything-is-coming-up-roses metaphor come to life. In the three-acre Krasberg Rose Garden, showstoppers include the striking Ingrid Bergman® (a true-red tea rose that grows up to 6 feet tall) and the spicy, fragrant John Davis shrub rose (a very hardy pink semi-double-flowered rose that can be trained as a shrub or a climber).
But the Rose Garden—one of the most popular spots at the Chicago Botanic Garden—also gives context and history to the storied flowers, while celebrating the best among them. Consider the old garden roses (also called antique or heirloom roses), which were cultivated before 1867. How does an old garden rose with a heady scent stand up to a modern David Austin® rose such as the soft pink ‘Heritage’, which has the look and fragrance of an heirloom rose but blooms repeatedly (instead of intermittently). The History of Roses Bed, which tracks the development of the rose from the earliest wild rose to the modern hybrids, also provides context. And, for inspiration, the Rose Garden features All-America Rose Selections winners, along with the best rose varieties for Midwest gardens.
One of the best times to drop by is in the morning, when the roses are the most fragrant—the warming effects of the early sun help release fragrant oils from the dewy petals. Find a bench in the shady cedar arbor, which is surrounded by climbing roses, flowering clematis, and a bubbling foundation in the shape of a Tudor rose—you’ll have the best seat in the house.