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Seasonal parade of blooms marks century in Stanley Park Rose Garden

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For 100 years, people in Stanley Park have stopped to smell the roses.

Article author:

Kevin Griffin

Release date:

June 15, 2020 • • June 15, 2020 • • Read for 4 minutes Vancouver Park Board Superintendent Janice Bishop smells one of the many roses in the Stanley Park Rose Garden on June 11, 2020.  The park's garden will be 100 years old this year.  For Kevin Griffin story.  Photo credit: MIke Bell / PNG [PNG Merlin Archive] Janice Bishop, of the Vancouver Park Board, smells one of the many roses in the Stanley Park Rose Garden. Photo by Mike Bell /.PNG

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There’s no better time than now to stop and smell the flowers at Stanley Park Rose Garden.

In the next few weeks, right into July, the roses will reach their peak. Many are so hot that you can smell clouds of scent as you walk through the garden on Pipeline Road next to the park entrance.

But you get the best and most concentrated fragrances by getting personal and sticking your nose in a flower. When you do this, be sure to respect the roses by smelling from the edge of the bed.

Pink Beverly roses are just beginning to bloom. Each flower has an amazingly full-bodied citrus scent. Nearby on the north side of the upper garden is the super pink rose called Sweet Fragrance, which more than lives up to its name.

Julia Child is one of the varieties in the upper and lower range. The yellow rose, named after the American chef, has an unforgettable anise scent that smells good enough to be eaten.

Roses are more fragrant in the morning, says a rose expert, when the oils in their petals are most aromatic.

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This year the rose garden is celebrating a milestone: it has been 100 years since the first roses bloomed in an official garden in Stanley Park.

The rose garden is one of the park’s most popular attractions, said Janice Bishop, superintendent of horticulture and destination parks for the Vancouver Park Board. She described it as a stand-alone destination that people are looking for in the park.

“When (people) see a rose, they are drawn to it,” she said.

“The first thing they do is lean down to smell it. We want to reward everyone and make sure they have a great experience and have a fragrant rose to smell. “

Bishop says the rose garden’s two levels have approximately 60 beds with an estimated 3,500 roses that will be planted on a slope facing west.

The rose garden opened in 1920 with a donation of US $ 3,600 from the Kiwanis Club, an international men’s service club. Originally known as the Kiwanis Rose Garden, it was supposed to “demonstrate the possibilities of rose culture in Vancouver”. The idea was to turn the city into a rose center on the west coast to take on Portland, Oregon.

The upper garden has not changed significantly from its original formal geometric and axial layout of rose beds around a central bed, according to the National Historic Sites of Canada.

The lower garden was added when the former city kindergarten moved to East Vancouver. The Pioneers’ Association was responsible for the arbor and its climbing roses in 1993.

Vancouver Park Board Superintendent Janice Bishop holds one of the many roses in the Stanley Park Rose Garden on June 11, 2020.  The park's garden will be 100 years old this year.  For Kevin Griffin story.  Photo credit: MIke Bell / PNG [PNG Merlin Archive] Vancouver Park Board Superintendent Janice Bishop of the Vancouver Park Board holds one of the many roses in the Stanley Park Rose Garden. Photo by Mike Bell /.PNG

The first roses that were planted a century ago would have been different from those in the garden today. They were much more cumbersome and required endless spraying and gardening. Contemporary rose varieties are harder and are chosen to grow best in our temperate climates, said Brad Jalbert, the founder, owner and hybridizer of Select Roses in Langley.

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Earlier this century, after the park authority switched to integrated pest management, a more ecological approach to pest and disease control, plants were no longer sprayed with insecticides and pesticides. As a result, the rose garden fell into disrepair.

The main problem was that the older rose varieties, which needed protection from diseases such as black spot and powdery mildew, had not been replaced by harder varieties.

Jalbert worked with former Park Board horticulturist Rick Harrison to bring the rose garden back to its former glory. Each year they were allocated a budget to replace multiple beds and replace old-style roses with healthier contemporary varieties.

“There are always some people who want to hate roses because they associate them with disease,” he said. “It’s just that people don’t know the 2020 roses.”

The aim was to replace the old roses in the garden with new, colorful and fragrant varieties. They also choose a range of shapes and sizes of flowers, including pollinator-friendly roses and long-stemmed cut roses.

“The garden has roses that are recognized all over the world,” he said.

Roses are fertilized with organic fertilizer three times a year and die – the used flowers are removed. If necessary, they are treated with non-toxic insecticidal soap against aphids.

Jalbert said that as a public rose garden in Metro Vancouver, there is nothing like the Stanley Park rose garden.

“For the quantity and variety and choice, it’s the best,” said Jalbert.

The rose garden is also located in a unique setting in the urban forest of Stanley Park.

“Is not it beautiful?” he said. “I’ve seen rose gardens all over the world and I think they have one of the most beautiful settings.”

He said the arbor was especially spectacular when covered in blooming roses.

“Whenever a public garden arrives anywhere in the world, the rose garden is the most visited part,” he said. “That is where the public wants to go.”

kevingriffin@postmedia.com

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