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Upcoming Closure: the Arboretum will be closed to the public Monday May 29. All other garden areas remain open.

Rose Garden

RBG’s Newly Rejuvenated Rose Garden

Located in Hendrie Park, the recently rejuvenated rose garden is an innovative, sustainable and inspiring experience, the quintessential rose garden for Canada’s largest botanical garden.

Peak Interest: June to September

Whether for their rich history, folklore, or fragrant beauty, garden roses are loved around the world. Originating from wild species found across Asia, Europe and North America, their cultivation and breeding has evolved along with human society for centuries.

While wandering through this two-acre garden we hope you’ll stop and smell the roses, explore their rich past, and discover how they (like all of us) are changing for a sustainable future.

Bloom Watch

The roses at RBG begin to bloom in early June, and often re-bloom in multiple “flushes” until mid- (or sometimes even late) fall! The roses are complimented by a variety of companion plants with different bloom times, bringing colour to Hendrie Park all season long.

Check back during bloom season for updates.

  • Rose garden in full bloom with visitors strolling along reflecting pond
  • Hendrie Park Fuschia Garden Roses
  • Monarch on verbena in Rose Garden
  • Deep pink roses in the foreground with purple globe shaped allium in the background
  • mother and daughter looking at red roses

Visiting the Rose Garden

The Rose Garden is located in the heart of Hendrie Park, one of RBG’s four formal garden areas.

Illustration of the new Rose Garden layout including pathways and bed colours

Hendrie Park

Access Hendrie Park through RBG Centre, located at 680 Plains Road W. Burlington ON

Admission: Garden admission applies. Free with RBG Membership.

Parking: FREE, available on-site

  • Distant Drums Roses With Verbena Bonariensis
  • white shrub roses
  • Light Purple Roses In Rose Garden
  • soft orange rose
  • Candy Cane Cocktail Rose

The Roses

Despite our best efforts, our past rose collection had languished, due in part to the cosmetic pesticide ban in 2009, and disease-prone cultivars. These left the whole garden vulnerable to detrimental insects, and diseases such as black spot, a fungal disease that has been blamed for a decline in the popularity of rose-growing in recent decades.

To bring new life and vibrancy into the garden required starting from scratch. Using environmentally-friendly treatments couldn’t outweigh the reality that we were growing a large monoculture of disease-prone Hybrid Tea and Floribunda roses in the shadow of large shade trees.

The new rose garden was designed with a sturdy foundation of disease-resistant, disease-tolerant, and cold-hardy roses, including some Canadian introductions you can find at local growers. Surrounding this base of roses are featured companion plants, some of which provide direct allelopathic health benefits to the roses when planted in close proximity. The new garden is hardy, strong, and full of colour throughout the whole growing season.

Historic Roses

Arching around the central display, the outer path’s plants and interpretive panels tell the story of the development of garden roses. Start on the “left” side and move clockwise around the garden to explore garden rose development from the Middle Ages to today.

Pink hybrid tea rose beside a garden sign (blurred)

21st Century Roses

The central display features 21st-century roses selected for their hardiness, disease- and pest-resistance, fragrance and spectacular beauty.

Canadian Shield™

One of the hardy roses featured in the new garden is Canadian Shield™, a low-maintenance, versatile garden and landscape rose that promises plenty of full red flowers and glossy green foliage throughout the growing season. The rose is a repeat bloomer, making it a majestic beauty all season, and just as its name suggests, it’s a hardy flower that can stand up to winter and resist disease from St. John’s, N.L., to Victoria, B.C.

The hugely popular Canadian Shield™ rose is from Vineland’s 49th Parallel Collection, developed at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland). Canadian Shield™ is the first rose released in the collection and was named Canada Blooms’ 2017 Plant of the Year.

Red Canadian Shield Rose Vineland 49th Parallel Collection

Companion Plants

The central display also includes annual and perennial companion plants to complement the roses and extend the bloom season while attracting beneficial insects.

Companion plants include Allium, Aster, Butterfly Weed, Beeblossom, Clematis, Daylily, Dill, Lavender, Phlox, Coneflower, Sedum, Verbena bonariensis, Yarrow and more!

monarch butterfly on butterfly weed

A Sustainable Garden for the Future

With a forward-thinking approach, we are responding to the effects of climate change and the expectations of our visitors. We built the Rose Garden, together with beautiful companion plants, as a healthy eco-system garden.

Under these beneficial plant pairings is a trickle irrigation system that allows the roses and their companions to build a deeper root system. Deep roots, combined with leveled mulching, rely on rain instead of regular watering, further building an eco-friendly approach.

This plant pairing and advanced irrigation system is combined with well-planted soil chemistry, creating a garden that is resilient and sustainable. A garden focused on healthy soil working together to attract beneficial insects and ward off the threat of invasive pests. With this thoughtful approach, beauty and sustainability are inter-woven, a holistic approach that builds a healthy ecosystem within the garden – the true hallmark of a 21st century rose garden.

History of the Centennial Rose Garden

A stunning garden for its time, the original Centennial Rose Garden provided over 50 years of memories to generations that walked its pathways.

  • 1964: Centennial Rose Garden designed by J. Austin Floyd
  • 1965: Construction of Centennial Rose Garden begins
  • 1967: Rose Garden opens to the public in recognition of Canada’s Centennial Year
  • 1974: Turner Pavilion Teahouse opens
  • 1975: Twin pergolas designed by Arthur Scott are completed
  • 2008: Reflecting ponds open to the public
  • 2017: Construction of the new Rose Garden begins
  • 2018: Summer – new Rose Garden opens to the public
  • Rose Garden Pergolas
  • Planting Original Rose Garden
  • Original Rose Garden August 1970

Despite the best efforts of RBG’s horticulture team, the collection had suffered in recent years. Using environmentally-friendly treatments could not outweigh the reality that the garden was made up of a large monoculture of disease-prone Hybrid teas and Floribunda roses in the shadow of large shade trees.

RBG recognized it was time for a change. In 2017, construction began on the rejuvenated garden, sacrificing a year of roses in order to take the rose garden in a bold new direction.

Support Horticulture at RBG

The care and growth of our horticultural collections are possible thanks to the generous support of RBG Members and donors. With a donation to Growing up Green, you can ensure an active, vibrant and healthy future for the children of today and tomorrow through our horticultural and conservation projects.

Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) is the largest botanical garden in Canada, a National Historic Site, and registered charitable organization with a mandate to bring together people, plants and nature.