Famous Rose Gardens


Probably the most famous rose garden of all was fashioned by the Empress Josephine of France in the 18th century. The real name of the wife of Napoleon Bonaparte was, in fact, "Rose." At the Chateau de Malmaison near Paris, she created the rose garden of her dreams, importing the very best that the world of her time had to offer. Through the ages, many interesting people have come to be associated with legendary rose gardens, each in a different way and time.

Mottisfont Abbey

Some of the rarest among old roses can be found in the gardens of historic Mottisfont Abbey in Hampshire, England. More than 300 old roses, including famous names like "Indigo" and "Single Pink China," are part of the collection of pre-1900 shrub and climbing roses. The abbey and gardens are managed by Britain's National Trust. Mottisfont Abbey was built on what was once a 12th-century Augustinian priory founded by William Briwere, an adviser to King Richard the Lionhearted. What would King Richard have thought? He would probably have approved.

Stoic Scottish Rose

In 1952, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother bought the Castle of Mey in Caithness, Scotland. She had just lost her husband, King George VI. The Castle of Mey was the northernmost inhabited castle in Britain and much in need of renovation. The Queen Mother fully restored the castle and grounds, including a two-acre garden. Known for her "green thumb," the Queen Mother created a beautiful garden landscape that included her favorite "Albertine" old roses and old-fashioned shrub roses and climbers. Under her watchful eye, the garden of Mey flourished, protected by a specially constructed "Great Wall of Mey" to shelter the garden from strong winds. As a tribute to the Queen Mother, two E-shaped rose beds have been added to the garden.

Photogenic Roses

President John F. Kennedy (1961 to 1963) initiated the tradition of holding functions and ceremonies in the White House Rose Garden. It is possibly the most photographed rose garden in the world, being close to the Oval Office and often the venue for media events. The very first roses were planted near the West Wing in 1913. Today, they include the roses "Elizabeth," "Pascale" and "Nevada. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan signed into law a proclamation that made the rose the official National Floral Emblem of America.

'Grace de Monaco'

In 1956, the year Grace Kelly, the Hollywood film star, married Prince Rainier Grimaldi of Monaco, the Meilland nurseries at Cap d'Antibes dedicated a hybrid tea rose to her, "Grace de Monaco." Princess Grace initiated the Garden Club of Monaco and was also the author of "My Book of Flowers," first published in 1980.The Princess Grace Rose Garden is in Fontvielle, Monaco. This idyllic spot is a tribute to the late princess, who died in a car crash in 1982. The Rose Garden was inaugurated in 1984. The garden is home to more than 4,000 rose trees and more than 150 varieties.


Chandigarh, India, is called the "garden city." Its Dr. Zakir Hussain Rose Garden, which covers 30 acres, is the largest rose garden in Asia, with about 2,000 varieties of roses and more than 50,000 rose trees. The garden is the venue for an annual rose festival.

Keywords: Empress Josephine's roses, White House roses, Princess Grace roses

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Maureen Katemopoulos has been a freelance writer for more than 25 years. Her articles on travel, the arts, cuisine and history have appeared in publications such as "Stanislaus Magazine," "Orientations," "The Asia Magazine" and "The Peninsula Group Magazine." She holds a Baccalaureate degree in journalism from Stanford University.