Whetstone Park of Roses My next outing had me stopping to smell the roses - literally.
The beautiful Park of Roses in Clintonville is definitely worth a stop if you've never been. It's gorgeous, it's free and it has a vibe all its own. The Park of Roses is actually part of Whetstone Park, and while the rose gardens are exactly that, rose gardens - there is a playground, shelter houses, etc. adjacent to it.
Initially, I was hoping to find a good westward facing spot to catch a sunset here, but there isn't one at the Park of Roses itself. It is always worth taking the time to stop though, just to take in the spectacular blooms and fragrances. It's actually one of the largest municipal rose gardens in the United States and it's right here in our backyard!
I've been here various times of the year but, believe it or not, I've never been when the roses are in full bloom. (I know - leave it to me.) Full bloom for the 12,000+ roses begins around mid-June and lasts through mid-September.
You can grab a map that actually helps you identify the various types of roses (there are 350+) that fill 13 acres, or you can do what I did and just meander through the gardens. There was a very slight breeze the day we stopped and the fragrance was absolutely INCREDIBLE. It was busy but not crowded, although the crowd was picking up as evening neared; they have free music there on Sunday evenings during the summer. This spot is also super popular for weddings and photographers and it's not unusual to see both when you visit.
(*Tip: If you are looking for an outdoor spot to photograph children that isn't a playground, I like this spot for several reasons. The height of the blooms makes for a great backdrop for little ones. The spiral staircase provides opportunity for some creative shots too. It's stroller friendly and it's a reasonable walk for little legs compared to some of the other popular options, like Minerva Park. The lack of visible playground equipment also doesn't hurt when you're trying to hustle before they lose focus.)
On my visit this time, I met a very nice lady who looked to be in her late 70's to early 80's. She was by herself walking around enjoying the gardens and reaching in to deadhead the roses every now and then. She told me it had been a long while since she had been there and asked if they still had the Sunday evening concerts. She went on to reminisce that she used to come there with a man she once dated to listen to the concerts, but "when the summer music was over, so was the romance!" Had we lingered longer, I have a feeling she could've shared some pretty great stories. :) In any case, I'm glad we stopped to take in the gorgeous blooms and I'm glad my new found friend was able to enjoy the music again.
If you go, be sure to follow the main garden straight back to the black gazebo structure with the spiral staircase. It's worth a quick trip to the top to take in an elevated view of the Formal Rose Garden laid out before you.
Note that there are actually three different rose gardens to visit - Formal, Heritage, and Earth Kind, as well as Herb and Perennial Gardens. You can read about each one here: http://www.parkofroses.org/about/the-park/. Be sure to wander around so you don't miss them!