Call me a bit warped, but a well crafted rose garden can be most beautiful when not blooming with showy grandifloras and floribundas. If you’ve visited America’s oldest municipal rose garden in Hartford, Connecticut’s Elizabeth Park as I did recently, you might agree.
Without the distraction of bright colors and perfumed air, the engaging geometry of the garden comes into full relief. Angled grassy walkways beneath arching trellises covered in rambling rose bushes lead to a central rustic gazebo from which paths radiate to all compass points. Liquored with recent rains, the lawn alleys are plush underfoot, leaving a visitor
feeling as if they’re walking just slightly above ground.
Full of thorny, still somewhat skeletal but intriguing canes, the beds are cut in a variety of rectangular, arcing and triangular forms. The emerging leaves tantalize with the hope of June’s blooms, but in the meantime have their own subtle beauty. The small, slightly toothed ovals are glossy and almost iridescent with hints of russet, purple and orange.
Of course, if you can’t wait for startling color, tiptoe to the gaudy tulips which blossom in colors generally found in candy or plastic children’s toys. With most visitors distracted by these shameless Dutch beauties, it leaves more time in the rose garden for the lost art of quiet contemplation.