‘A collection of old roses gives a great and increasing pleasure.’
There are rose gardens and then there are rose gardens. It’s not every day you come across a rose garden covering nearly 10 acres. But Buenos Aires’ El Rosedal, commonly known as the Jardin de las Rosas (Rose Garden), is just such a place. And the magnificent space is immaculately maintained and surprisingly, free to the public.
Given the vastness of the El Rosedal, it’s hard to describe it in a nutshell. Photographing the garden in its entirety is out of the question. What immediately stands out are the thousands and thousands upon roses: 20,000 according to the website. There are over 1,000 species represented.
Big as it is, El Rosedal is actually part of an even larger park known as the Parque Tres de Febrero, a series of green spaces in the neighborhood of Palermo encompassing more than 25 acres. The parks were constructed in the early 1900’s atop land formerly belonging to the 19th century strongman Juan Manuel de Rosas. The name Tres de Febrero commemorates not Rosas’ victories but rather his February 3 defeat at the Battle of Caseros in 1852. The happy event ushered in Argentina’s first Constitution.
Juan Manuel de Rosas
Opened in 1914, the garden called El Rosedal was designed by the French-born landscape architect Carlos Thays (profiled in my previous post). Surrounded by a tall wrought-iron fence, it is bordered on one side by an artificial lake and on the other by the main bike path that encircles the park. It is one of the most popular destinations in Parque Tres de Febrero.
In 2012, El Rosedal was granted the Award of Garden Excellence by the World Federation of Rose Societies (WFRS). And today, a stroll through the color-themed borders is a vivid and fragrance-filled experience.
The layout of the garden follows the contours of a traditional rose garden design. Straight lines, classical embellishments and a white arbor are its main architectural features. The beds are laid out in sequential geometric patterns grouped along gravel paths that radiate outwards from a center. In the background, native evergreens and mature palm trees provide a lush green backdrop.
The roses are grouped according to species and color and planted en masse in rectangular and triangular sectors. Each of the beds is edged by thin strips of immaculately trimmed lawn.
One of the many plusses about Rosedal is that each cultivar is clearly labeled, making it easy to identify the roses represented. Here are a few standouts that caught my eye.
Graham Thomas (David Austin English rose)
Sorry, didn’t find the name for this stunner.
Eglantyne (David Austin English rose)
Pat Austin (David Austin English rose)
Caprice de Meilland
Louis de Funes
The most common species represented in the garden is the rosa Sevillana, bred by Marie-Louise Meilland and released in 1978. Known for its brilliant red color, la Sevillana is an outstanding performer in hot, sunny climates like Buenos Aires. Another red rose, the floribunda Europeana, (known for its dark red double blossom) looks particularly impressive trained as standards and planted closely together along one of the central walkways.
Still other walkways are lined by rows of clipped Iceberg roses.
There are plenty of benches throughout the garden that provide great resting places from which to enjoy the amazing collection. Their deep green color echoes the green foliage of the rose bushes while leading the eye further into the space.
At the far end of the garden is a white-painted arbor. Smothered in climbing roses and white-flowering plumbago, it sets the scene for the garden, making it appear even larger than it actually is.
There are also five fountains that punctuate different areas of the garden.
Aside from the roses, another big attraction in Rosedal is the Lover’s Bridge (Puente de los Enamorados). Covered in lattice work and decorated with Grecian style urns, the white painted bridge serves as the entryway from the Parque Tres de Febrero into Rosedal. Legend has it that couples who wish to protect their love should take each others’ hand when climbing onto the first step of the bridge, then stop in the middle to give each other a kiss. Unfortunately it was closed during our visit.
Puente de los Enamorados
El Rosedal is managed by the Ministry of Public Works with a team of 20 charged with maintaining the expansive space. We met a few of them the first day we tried to visit the park only to find it was closed due to a massive clean up following the previous nights’ storm.
In 2011 Rosedal was declared a cultural heritage site belonging to the City of Buenos Aires. Any future renovation or restorations must respect the original design set forth in 1914.