4124 Roseway Road
Minneapolis, MN 55409
7:30 am-10 pm
Part of: Lyndale Park Gardens
Garden Brochure [PDF]
Peak Display Time: mid-June until early-October
Our 12 gardens offer inviting spaces to explore, relax, and learn about the environment.
The Rose Garden is the second oldest public rose garden in the United States, and showcases 3,000 plants in 100 different varieties.
It sits on 1.5 acres located near the Northeast corner of Lake Harriet, and was designated an official All-America Rose Selections (AARS) test rose garden in 1946.
Annual Patron Parking Permit: Enjoy parking privileges in specially designated spaces at some of our most popular regional parks. View parking permit details.
The transformation of Lyndale Park awaited the arrival of Theodore Wirth as park superintendent in 1906. At the end of his first year in Minneapolis, Wirth submitted in the 1906 annual report extensive recommendations for the improvement of Lake Harriet and Lyndale Park. (Wirth noted that Lyndale Park was really a part of Lake Harriet Park and one name should embrace the “entire territory.”) He made dramatic suggestions for changing the lakeshore of the lake, including adding a peninsula on the west side of the lake. As for Lyndale Park on the east shore, he said “not one single acre can at present be classed as being in serviceable condition.” Wirth had two ideas. First, the area from the pavilion east would be filled with material dredged from the lake to create playing fields surrounded by groves of trees. Second, the eastern and southern sections of the park would be devoted to “educational purposes on plant life.”
His first suggestion for Lyndale Park was never followed; his second was—with spectacular results. Wirth proposed two types of gardens for the area. First, a rose garden, which would, in addition to providing “beauty and pleasure,” provide “an instructive lesson on what roses to grow and how.” Above the rose garden, he proposed “a garden of trees, shrubs, and wild and cultivated flowers of every description.” The garden would be planted so that in every season something would be blooming and each plant would be properly labeled. Wirth wrote that “the educational service of the grounds towards home beautifying is inestimable.”
It was the beginning of gardens that have been loved by generations of Minneapolis citizens. The first project to be initiated in 1907 was the rose garden. Wirth had created the first municipal rose garden in the United States in his previous position as superintendent of parks in Hartford, Connecticut. Under the direction of newly hired park florist Louis Boeglin, Wirth set out to replicate that success. (Boeglin eventually became the head of all horticulture in Minneapolis parks and remained in that position until 1940.) The rose garden was completed in 1908 and the next year Wirth called it a “great success.”
Over the next few years, the gardens were gradually developed, but had not yet caught on with the public. In 1914 Wirth called the rose garden an inspiring scene, but lamented that it was “remarkable that only a small proportion of our population visits this ground, or even knows about it.”
The public visibility of the gardens got a boost beginning in 1917 when the first playground pageant was performed on the hill above the rose garden overlooking the lake. The playground pageants included performances written specifically for the occasion and featured children in costumes from every park in the city. The first year the pageant drew a crowd of 15,000 and in later years the performance was extended to two evenings and played to crowds of 40,000. The pageant remained a popular annual event, with a hiatus during the Depression, until 1941. The pageants drew such large crowds that in 1930 the park board considered building an 18,000-seat amphitheater on the hillside at Lyndale Park to accommodate pageant crowds and host other outdoor concerts. With the onset of the Great Depression, however, funds for such a project never materialized.
A fountain was installed in Lyndale Park in 1947 thanks to Frank Heffelfinger. Heffelfinger had seen the bronze and marble fountain in Florence, Italy, bought it and had it dismantled and shipped home to Minneapolis. He donated it to the park board and it was dedicated in Lyndale Park in 1947. Heffelfinger’s donation came shortly after the addition of an official test rose garden for the All-America Rose Selections in 1946. The patio around the fountain was installed in 1988.
Park history compiled and written by David C. Smith.