Albuquerque Rose Garden

Tony Hillerman Library 
8205 Apache Ave. NE
Albuquerque, NM 87110

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The Albuquerque Rose Garden, completed in 1995, was the result of a four year collaboration among the City of Albuquerque, the Library director and branch manager, landscape architect William Perkins and the Albuquerque Rose Society.  The garden is located on the grounds of the Wyoming Regional Library in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  At a cost of more than $400,000, provided by the City and by hundreds of donations of cash and roses from individuals and nurseries from all over the United States, the renovation was completed three years before an American Rose Society National Convention in Albuquerque and was highlighted at that Convention.  It was gratifying to have the director of AARS Public Rose Gardens attend and leave his card with a note on the back that said “This is one of the most impressive public rose gardens I have ever seen.”

On the north side of the library, a large shade structure with built-in tables and benches serves as a gathering place for many public events.  Climbing roses on steel frames provide a screen between the shade structure and the adjacent street.  Raised planters on the south and west sides of the shade structure set Miniature and Polyantha roses at a good viewing height.  From the east side of the shade structure, a curved walkway leads visitors through the Hybrid Tea, Grandiflora and Shrub (David Austin) rose beds and towards the east rose gardens.  Along this walkway, a 10-foot-wide pergola showcases climbing roses. The adjacent beds radiate out from the east Library courtyard towards the pergola and are surrounded by 5 foot wide paths.  At the south end of this curved path are four-foot square box planters for specimen roses.  In the shade along the wall of the Library are beds for shade tolerant Hybrid Musk roses and for mauve colored roses that require protection from extreme afternoon heat.

In the east garden, free form beds with winding paths, benches, arches and trees provide a more contemplative atmosphere filled with color, fragrance, and shade.  These beds include Floribundas, Shrubs and Old Garden Roses and showcase the color, versatility, vigor and ease of care that roses can bring into the landscape of homes and public facilities.

The east entrance to the Library was envisioned as the "Fragrance Walk" to create an enticing scented path leading to the Library doors.  Especially fragrant Hybrid Tea roses are planted along one side of the sidewalk and benches are provided so that visitors can stop and enjoy the heady rose perfume.

Along the south side of the Library building, where the summer heat is the most intense, are large beds of Hybrid Rugosas and Species roses. These beds are a clear demonstration that there are low maintenance roses for even the most difficult planting sites.

Grandiflora, Floribunda and Shrub roses,  xeric plants and trees provide a border between the west parking lot and the street.  Three Rosa Banksiae Luteas, cover an area about 40 feet long, 10 feet wide and 8 feet high effectively screen the parking lot from the street and are the perfect demonstration of the vigor and use for that rose.

The Albuquerque Rose Society's Garden Renovation Committee used the mission statements for both the All
 American Rose Selections and the Albuquerque Rose Society to develop the planting plan for the redesigned garden.  The garden committee then selected and ordered the roses and supervised planting the rose bushes.  About 700 bushes were donated by nurseries from across the United States and another 500 bushes were purchased with City funds, donations, and proceeds from fund raisers.  Roses were selected as follows:
* All American Rose Selections:  When selections are made each year, six plants of each variety selected are planted and maintained in the garden for 5 years.  After 5 years, each of these varieties is reduced to three plants and will be maintained in the garden indefinitely as long as long as the ARS rating remains at 7.5 or higher.  Miniatures chosen as All American Selections as well as Award of Excellence selections are included their first year and continue in the garden depending upon their performance.
* All other roses were selected by experienced rosarians for their beauty, proven quality, ratings and ability to grow well in Albuquerque.  Roses included are:  Floribundas, Grandifloras, Hybrid Musks, Hybrid Rugosas, Hybrid Teas, Large-Flowered Climbers, Miniatures, Mini-Floras, Polyanthas, Old Garden Roses, Shrubs (including David Austins and Griffith Bucks), Ramblers and Species.
* One of the Hybrid Tea beds is the Peace Memorial Bed, which commemorates the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II and the founding of the United Nations.  There are 15 roses of five Peace rose varieties in this bed.

The Albuquerque Rose Society was founded in 1948.  Our mission is to "promote and celebrate our national flower and to provide educational opportunities to increase the public's knowledge of and appreciation of the rose." To help accomplish that goal, the first Albuquerque Rose Garden was planted in 1954 by the original members.  As Albuquerque grew, a larger site became available at a local library.  Working with the City of Albuquerque, the Albuquerque Rose Society designed and installed a rose garden at the Wyoming Library in 1962.  The agreement among the City, the Wyoming Library and our organization was that we would provide the maintenance of the rose garden if they would build it and provide irrigation water.

This public garden served the Albuquerque Rose Society and the community well for about 30 years. As the library patronage grew so did the building size and the parking requirements.  By 1990 the site needed to be redesigned.  Rather than move the garden to another location we requested that the rose garden be remodeled.  The design process began with discussions with the City Councilor for the district in which the garden resides, emphasizing the almost 50 year history of the garden, its importance to the community, the thousands of volunteer hours contributed to maintaining the garden by the Society, and the need for renovation.

We were subsequently contacted by the Director of the Albuquerque Library System and invited to discuss our ideas about renovating the grounds.  Our garden committee, which normally met infrequently, went into full project mode. We met almost weekly to establish the requirements we felt were necessary for the successful renovation of the garden. The City hired professional landscape architects, Campbell Okuma Perkins Associates, to design a garden that would meet the requirements of both the Library and the Rose Society.

The City reviewed our recommendations and after numerous negotiations included all of our design features in the final drawings to renovate the grounds.  Although bids for the renovation were higher than expected, the City ultimately approved the contract for the full improvement plan.  The new design accommodates about 1,200 rose bushes and includes some wonderful new amenities designed by William Perkins, including a shade structure, a pergola, arches, picnic tables and benches, concrete edging for planting beds, raised beds for Miniatures and Polyanthas, and a comprehensive new watering system.  Xeric plantings and daylily beds accent the design and several varieties of trees, including the 'Bradford' pear, Chilopsis linearis (desert willow) and Vitex, shade the benches and parking lots.  The Albuquerque Rose Society consulted with Western Organics and developed a soil mix specifically for growing roses in our climate.  This custom soil, composed of 50% Rio Grande compost, 25% masonry sand. 20% pumice and 5% zeolite, replaced the native soils in all of the new rose beds.  Western Organics continues to mix and sell this soil under the name "Albuquerque Rose Mix".

The Albuquerque Rose Garden will always be a work in progress.  We continue to replace less hardy roses with new varieties, move roses from positions that have become too shaded and add new beds to further enhance the public's experience.  The garden is currently planted with about 1,200 roses comprising 30 types.  Each variety has an identification sign and throughout the garden there are educational signs that describe characteristics of each type of rose.  The garden now showcases about 80 AARS winners which are marked by special AARS signs.

Throughout the history of the public rose garden members of the Albuquerque Rose Society have provided the time and labor necessary to plant, prune, deadhead, feed, and weed the garden.  The Library manager and staff are very supportive and assist us with maintenance and improvements as the need arises including daily debris cleanup.  Our garden committee organizes workdays, selects new roses, and oversees the development of new planting beds.  As part of our mission of education, members provide extensive pruning demonstrations every spring.   We maintain a list of roses that grow well in Albuquerque and make it available to garden visitors.  We promote the rose in a variety of activities throughout the year including two rose shows and numerous presentations to other organizations.  All funds to support the garden are raised by the society.

More Rose Garden photos

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