I had a few errands yesterday that took me past New Britain and, even though it was raining, I felt I needed to stop and smell the roses at the Walnut Hill Park Rose Garden.
The rose garden is relatively new, being a replacement for the 1929 rose garden which was demolished at some point in the late twentieth century after years of neglect. The new rose garden was planted in 2010 by the Friends of Walnut Hill Park Rose Garden and consists of eight hundred rose bushes representing seventy-five different varieties of type, color, and fragrance. At peak bloom, the garden is a carefully controlled riot of color and scent.
The 1929 rose garden had been planted by James Burke, the city’s gardener, on the eastern slope of Walnut Hill Park, along Grand Street. The current garden makes use of established flower beds near the World War I memorial and admirably suits the site. This location also allows the garden to be accessible to strollers, wheelchairs, and walkers, creating a space that is truly open to everyone.
The park itself was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, a Connecticut-born landscape architect who designed many parks around the country, including Central Park in New York. In Connecticut, he had many private and residential commissions, as well as several major parks:
Beardsley Park (Bridgeport)
Institute of Living, grounds (Hartford)
Keney Park (Hartford)
Seaside Park (Bridgeport)
Walnut Hill Park (New Britain)