The three and a half acre rose garden was first planted by William Hertrich as a display garden in 1908. In the 1970s, the garden was reorganized as a “collection garden” with more than 1,200 cultivars (approx 4,000 individual plants) arranged historically to trace the development of roses from ancient to modern times beginning with the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans.
The entrance pathway leads to an 18th-century French stone tempietto and statue, “Love, the Captive of Youth,” encircled by “French Lace” roses. The beds north of the arbor next to the Shakespeare Garden have a paved walk, and feature Tea and China roses and their descendants, first introduced into Europe from China around 1900.
On the south side of the rose arbor are nineteenth-century shrub roses, descended from old European varieties. Climbing and rambling roses—from all periods and groups—grow on the arbors, arches, and pergolas.
The central part of the garden contains Hybrid Teas, Floribundas, Polyanthas, and miniatures, with separate beds for classic pre-1920 hybrid teas and for roses from the 1920s, ‘30s, and ‘40s. Other beds feature roses introduced since the 1950s and introductions from abroad, including recent plantings of roses from India.
David Austin’s roses (in beds near the tempietto) combine “Old Garden Rose” attributes with the repeat-blooming characteristics of modern hybrids. ‘Huntington’s Hero’ was propagated from a sport discovered on one of sixty bushes of ‘Hero’ among the David Austin plantings. It was named in honor of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the institution’s founding in 1919.
The Rose Garden includes important parent roses, roses from prominent hybridizers, and rose cultivars from around the world that grow exceedingly well in Southern California. The garden has gone through a number of redesigns over the years, with major replantings in 1922, 1945, 1973, 1982, and redesign in 1988. First bloom starts around April 15th and continues right up to the start of pruning on January 2nd, typically peaking from late April through early June.
The rose labels displayed near each rose contain three pieces of important information: cultivar name (top center); horticultural class, i.e., Hybrid Tea, Floribunda, Grandiflora, (bottom left); and the date of introduction, or when the cultivar was first sold (bottom right).
The Rose Garden Collections
Taxodium mucronatum, Montezuma Cypress, were planted from seed collected in 1912 in Mexico City. Agathis robusta, Queensland Kauri Pine, was originally planted by the Shorb home and is over one hundred years old.