Even in a bad year for our roses, we get an eyeful at Thornden Park

What a good year for the roses
Many blooms still linger there
The lawn could stand another mowin’
Funny I don’t even care
As you turn to walk away
As the door behind you closes
The only thing I have to say
It’s been a good year for the roses

Sorry, George Jones and Elvis Costello, two fine and notable singers of the song lauding that sweet, sweet flower written by Jerry Chesnut.

Quite literally, in the front and backyard of the Little Bitty in the Syracuse city neighborhood of Eastwood, it has not been a good year for the roses.

Click on any gallery photo for a description. Click and hold on the bottom right photo in any gallery for an enlarged slide show.

By this time, the roses my dear wife Karen has so lovingly put into our ground have usually pushed out dozens of reds, whites and yellows. This year, we’ve not one red bloom, and that one out back is traditionally the biggest and burliest of the half-dozen bushes.

No. We’ve had the one each, so-small, white and yellow blooms pictured above.

So we wondered what we see on our annual trek to the Rose Garden a few miles away in Thornden Park, on the fringes of the Syracuse University campus.

I wrote about the E.M. Mills Rose Garden for this week’s Mark It Up community column for Syracuse Public Media site waer.org. If you’d like to read the story and see more photos of the spread, click the link below.


Yes, we saw blooming roses. The setting is quite gorgeous.

What harsh winter?

What harsh winter?

We took our time walking the rows and — you betcha — smelling the roses.

All this, for free.

All this, for free.

I always find it hard to believe that there aren’t more people around when we take our annual trip to these sprawling grounds, which hold 3,550 rose plants and are maintained by volunteers of the Syracuse Rose Society.

Has this been a bad year for your roses where you live? Do you have a particular variety of rose that’s your favorite? Do you have a public Rose Garden where you live, and if so, what’s the setting like?

54 thoughts on “Even in a bad year for our roses, we get an eyeful at Thornden Park

  1. I’m sorry to see your roses are worse for wear from the awful winter you had. Your garden photos are gorgeous.

    My rose garden exploded this year. I have a climbing rose, Cecile Bruner that grew an extra twenty feet. The roses came early perfuming the garden in May instead of June. Not sure if a little alpha meal and Epsom salt mix might not help your roses survive the winter if you haven”t already used them.


  2. The Rose gardens look extra beautiful with your lovely Karen there looking and smelling their sweet scents mingling in the air. I am not sure why but some places like our Clintonville Park of Roses and your E.M. Mills Rose Garden tended by the Syracuse Rose Society know how to prepare the soil snd somehow have special “secret skills.” πŸ™‚ ( We have Master Gardeners around Columbus.)


  3. as you know, all of my gardening experiences are trial and error, with mixed results. i expect that your roses will return in their full glory next year. the rose garden you visited is very, very pretty.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I like your trail and error, let it grown and sprawl and the pretty cottage grounds, Beth. I hope next year we indeed have the return of the rose blooms. I know MDW Karen already is plotting her strategies. πŸ™‚


  4. Whoa. so much beauty in one place, bro Mark. I haven’t seen very many roses in this area, but I haven’t been out to the areas that have roses much this summer. Unforeseen circumstances prevented doing a lot of fun things. The rose garden at the sister building was destroyed to accommodate the construction crews, so my usual photo op disappeared along with it. The people there sure know how to maintain a rose garden though. It takes a skill I don’t posses.


  5. Very beautiful public garden. And I think it is wonderful that it is maintained by volunteers. I know little about gardening but our rose bushes were doing pretty good and now they look a bit sickly. I may have to get a gardener or a knowledgeable neighbor to take a look and give me some advice. I think they may have gotten attacked by some bugs or other blight. 😦


  6. We do have a blooming rose bush in the front yard (in the shade from the 106 degrees today). I think I’d rather have a blooming onion right now. No, no, Outback’s service is wretched. My son got a rose in soil at church years ago and we planted it, and son of a gun, it took. But they ain’t got nothin’ on those roses in your pics.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Aw. Your pictures remind me of my late grandfather. Roses were his favorite, and he put so much time and care into tending to his. Lovely, Mark.

    Somehow the Chicago Botanic Garden manages to eke out roses even when the conditions for them are at their worst. I wish I had photographs to show you. If you every come out this way, I would put the garden on your list of must-sees.


  8. My rose bush never did bloom this year, but then it’s in a bad location that doesn’t get enough light. My girls were supposed to come over early in the summer to help me move it, but then we had that neighbor problem and I didn’t want them around for a few weeks. Then it got too hot to be working out front. Hopefully I can move it in the spring – it would look so beautiful next to the new(er) front porch.


  9. Roses are my fav! My Mom has over 50 varieties growing and they are her extended babies. Growing up with her obsession for them the sweet smelling flowers as one of my friends put it-“Smells like a funeral Parlor” in here??? BaHaHaHa. Just beautiful…Sorry YDW Karen’s did not fair so well but there is next year! Gatorette.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Beautiful photos of the roses. Amazingly my roses seem to do well, despite the lack of water. Must be all the sun. The most beautiful field of roses I ever laid eyes on was actually just outside of Phoenix. You wouldn’t think they would do well there, but there were acres and acres of them – all so healthy. My favorite rose, actually I have several, is a lavender rose my son planted, then I have one where the blooms look those striped peppermint candies. I also have another tea rose that blooms yellow, but as the bloom ages it changes to a brilliant coral.


  11. Beautiful pictures Mark. You know I didn’t think Ottawa had a rose garden so I googled it. I was surprised to find that the “Heritage Rose Garden” is very popular It is a part of the Central Experimental Farm (CEF) a unique Federal government establishment here in Ottawa. Because Ottawa is the capital and Canada has a lot of agriculture, we have a huge government dept that just experiments with crops and plants. It used to be in the outskirts of the city but Ottawa has grown around it so there are thousands of acres of experimental crops basically in the south central part of the city. Driving along beside the highrise buildings you suddenly find yourself in a corn field that goes for miles. I knew they experimented with non-food crops but I didn’t realize they had a whole section devoted to ornamental flowers and roses. Apparently this section is staffed mostly by volunteers but they still do a lot of experiments and plant development here. Here’s a small part of the ornamental gardens at CEF:



  12. It’s not been a bad year for my rose bush, but then, I feed it all the time, coffee grounds, egg shells, banana peels. Normally, I’d ask you what kind of sun the roses get, but you said normally they’d flourish, so they must be planted in a good spot. Try some fertilizer?
    We don’t have a rose garden as shown in your photos. (Totally gorgeous, I’d go a lot!) But we do have some rose gardens attached to other places, like the art museum, or the cemetery of the rich and famous. And of course, we have a conservatory and botanical gardens, which I enjoy going to, but not so much my family or friends, soooo…Maybe I’ll do that one day before the weather cools too much — go over to the conservatory and snap some photos…Nice idea you’ve planted! πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    • Our roses have been outstanding until this year, Joey. I think it was the lack of a melt for four months straight last winter. Or maybe the front garden HAS gotten too crowded and the other plants are blocking the sun, and Ellie B got too rambunctious with the back bush, with which she has free access. Or a combination thereof. MDW Karen does feed them, though.

      I’m glad I gave you the idea to visit your cool rose repositories in Indy before it gets too fall-ish. πŸ™‚


    • When we travel, MDW Karen and I look for rose gardens, Merril. There’s a great one at the Mission in Santa Barbara. This one in Syracuse measures up to it, though. Personally, my favorite has been the one in Portland, Ore., poartly because of the way it stood on a big hill overlooking downtown, with Mount Hood past that!

      Liked by 1 person

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