If you're a flower lover in the Flower City, spring and summer are the perfect times to stop and smell the roses (and lilacs and more!), literally. Explore these Rochester destinations for the perfect view of what's in bloom this season.
Well known for its annual Lilac Festival, the largest display of lilacs in North America, Highland Park is also one of the oldest public arboretums or "tree gardens" in the United States. During your visit be sure to admire the park's Japanese Maple collection, 35 varieties of sweet-smelling magnolias, rhododendrons, azaleas, spring bulbs and wildflowers, and more.
George Eastman, founder of Kodak, lived in Rochester and during his life his urban estate functioned as both a working farm and an elegant floral setting for entertaining. Today, the gardens welcome visitors from May through September for daily guided tours, self-guided strolls, special events, and more. In 1984, original plans, historical photographs, correspondence, and invoices were used by garden historians to reconstruct and preserve the original gardens and grounds.
Maplewood Rose Garden
The Maplewood Rose Garden showcases a large collection of the most healthy roses available today. With over 250 different cultivars on display, the garden is a popular location for photo shoots. The colorful flowers appear from early June until nearly Thanksgiving. Outside the rose season, the garden grows bulbs, annuals, perennials, and evergreens.
The Ellwanger Garden contains living history, as it contains many plantings originally placed by Mr. George Ellwanger and his family from 1867 to 1982. The garden is open each year during the Lilac Festival and in June for Peony Weekend, but can also be viewed by appointment with groups of 6 or more. Contact the Landmark Society to learn more or set up a tour.
Eye-catching blossoms, fragrant herbs, luscious fruits, and rows upon rows of colorful vegetables all vie for your attention at the Heirloom Gardens. They are also functional; products of the garden are used regularly in the village for preparing meals in the historic kitchens, dyeing fibers, medicinal preparations, decorations and craft projects. Garden tours with an experienced horticultural interpreter can be arranged throughout the season.
Sonnenburg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park
Sonnenberg Gardens greets 35,000 visitors annually and has been doing so since it opened its doors to the public in 1973. Visitors from all over the globe come to enjoy the flower-filled gardens, majestic trees, and to tour the historic Queen Anne-style mansion.
Warner Castle and Sunken Garden
The Warner Castle is located in Highland Park and was a private residence until 1951, when the city of Rochester purchased the property. The structure of the castle was made to resemble the ancestral castle of the Clan Douglas which captivated Horatio Gates Warner's fancy during a visit to Scotland. The sunken garden in the back of the property is a peaceful oasis, and an ideal backdrop for wedding and graduation photos, and more.
The grounds of RMSC contain a myriad of gardens, including the Tim Sullivan Memorial Garden, Garden of Fragrance, Kearns Family Garden, Mary E. Slifer Memorial Garden, Don Lowry Garden, and the Main Entrance Garden.
The only year-round indoor butterfly garden in upstate New York, Dancing Wings also encapsulates a lush rain forest environment with tropical foliage, a turtle pond, and a cascading waterfall. During your visit, see if you can spy Watson, the garden’s resident panther chameleon. His colorful scales change color as he adapts to the environment.
Lamberton Conservatory in Highland Park
Rain or shine, the Lamberton Conservatory is a botanical treat. Step through climate-controlled rooms containing desert plants, economic plants (such as banana and coffee trees), as well as carnivorous and house plants. Exhibits are changed seasonally so there is always something beautiful to see.
The Webster Arboretum
The Webster Arboretum is a planned community park. The goal of this park is to bring together unique talents of community members to develop and maintain a special setting in which to explore and learn about nature. Stroll through the park to admire the work of the arboretum's four garden clubs that work to maintain the beauty of the space.
Durand Eastman Arboretum
Durand Eastman Park's arboretum is located between Zoo Rd. and Sweet Fern Rd. The unique topography and soils in the area allow the growing of plants not native to this area. Plus, its steep wooded slopes, valleys, small lakes, and spring flowering trees add to this park's exceptional beauty.
Mendon Ponds Park is the largest Monroe County Park with 2,500 acres of woodlands, ponds, wetlands and glacially created landforms. Specifically, the park has several spaces in the Nature Center where visitors can admire seasonal flowers. Behind the Nature Center, Sharon’s Sensory Garden is a unique sensory garden for people with visual or physical disabilities. The sensory garden is designed for visitors to touch, tear, and smell the plant life. To the east side of the center is a lovely butterfly garden with several educational signs. Finally, to the west of the nature center is Wild Wings, a non-profit organization where visitors can view and learn about 30 permanently injured, non-releasable birds of prey.
University of Rochester Arboretum
The Mission of the University of Rochester Arboretum is to reinforce and maintain an environment that preserves the beauty of the college's campus through a progressive program of grounds management, while supporting the study of native plant materials and developing new plant collections.