San Jose, CA

The hidden San Jose rose garden that will make you come back time, and time again

Tania Erasmus

“We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses blooming outside our windows today.”– Dale Carnegie

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The heart of San Jose Rose Garden.Flickr / John Menard (CC)

I have always thought of San Jose as the heart of innovation, the centre of the high tech industry and pretty much a boring place where tech-savvy people develop online platforms in environmentally friendly designed buildings. It never even registered with me that this place with a Mediterranean climate, sidewalk cafes, coffee shops, boutiques, vintage shops, and bookstores hides the perfect secret rose garden just around the corner.

If you walk down Lincoln Avenue, take a left into Park Avenue past the Egyptian Museum, you will find the most spectacular rose garden on the corner of Naglee and Dana Avenue. You will immediately know that you are close when you start smelling the roses. The fragrance of blooming roses floats on the breeze, it lingers and teases, and you would find yourself walking faster past the wall to the gate where the splendour of colour would fill your view, take your breath away and would leave an undeniable feeling of well-being in your soul. This is the Municipal Rose Garden in the heart of the Rose Garden District of San Jose.

“The world is a rose, smell it, and pass it to your friends." – Persian Proverb
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San Jose roses are the blood of the city.Unsplash / Nikita Tikhomirov

The San Jose Municipal Rose Garden was founded in 1927 and is exclusively dedicated to planting roses. With 189 rose varieties on the show and more than 3,500 rose bushes, this historic rose garden was named Americas Best Rose Garden, by AARS in a nationwide competition. On 27 November 1927 the Santa Clara County Rose Society, provided roses for the 5.5 acres of land set aside by the San Jose City Council. Since the early 30’s the San Jose Rose garden has flourished and impressed over many years and is one of the official display gardens of the All-America Rose Selections(AARS).

The Rose Garden district owes its charming vibe to a diverse display of rose varieties in its namesake garden, plus tree-lined streets with centuries-old homes. Hip vintage boutiques dot the nearby Alameda strip, while dining spans informal pizza places, global eateries and wine tasting rooms. The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum houses a replica tomb, ancient artefacts covering statues to jewelery, and a planetarium. ― Google search

You can park your car on the street and access the park by gates. The park is in a tranquil neighbourhood enclosed by a lovely residential area. A large part of the park has vast green lawns with hundreds of rose bushes surrounding it, where you can sit on benches or throw out a picnic blanket. A stately fountain takes centre stage with rows of roses and arbours all neatly classified so that you can identify the different varieties. Entry to the garden is free, and you will find neat and well-maintained restrooms on opposite sides of the park. At specific times of the year, you will see hundreds of roses in bloom and can enjoy the sight of a row of Redwood trees and shady lawn areas. If you see any of the volunteers working in the garden, make a point of thanking them for their hard work, because they are the ones keeping this gem alive.

“When love came first to earth, the Spring spread rose beds to receive him." – Thomas Campbell
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A symbol of peace in this busy metropolis.Unsplash / Puck Milder

This garden is without a doubt a beautiful experience, it is a tranquil place where you can relax on a bench, be mesmerised by the sound of the fountain, stroll around and admire the roses, or spread a picnic blanket in the shade. 
It is just lovely, and you should take someone who would appreciate it along. Certainly an experience you need to share with a loved one. Bring your lunch, a good book or even your easel and paintbrushes and take advantage of the sitting areas. This paradise is the place to go to, to do just that.
It is a fantastic spot for a photoshoot and, especially wedding photos. The wide variety of roses and kaleidoscope of colours promise a breathtaking backdrop for your forever photo album.

The Municipal Rose Garden at San Jose is a delight for rose lovers. There are over 4000 roses spread over a relatively small area. The roses are all labelled, and you can get a map at the entrance to help identify all the floral beauties you meet on your wanderings through the garden. Volunteers are maintaining the garden year-round, and they are very keen to welcome newcomers to get involved. You can help with all sorts of tasks if you like gardening. These tasks include anything from weeding, clipping dead flower heads to pruning and planting. The regular volunteer garden days are on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and there are enough supervisors to assist if you need help.

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San Jose Municipal Rose Garden Fountain or the fountain of love, as the locals know it.Wikipedia / Oleg Alexandrov (CC)

There will be pruning almost right through the year. Once-bloomer pruning is in July and early August. Winter pruning starts with Tea roses in November and continues with modern roses through the middle or end of February and should give a novice ample opportunity to learn this skill, and free rose pruning lessons are available. The expert rosarians will demonstrate and show you how to prune, and then you will be allowed to prune many roses. These supervised practical lessons will build your confidence in caring for your roses at home in your garden.

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” – Abraham Lincoln

I love spending time in the garden. Sitting outside, reading a book, maybe writing some correspondence or replying to emails or sometimes just basking in the afternoon winter sun to nourish my soul. The smell of roses, the variety of colour you can feast your eyes on and that feeling of abundance it leaves inside you makes a rose garden part of heaven. This little gem in the middle of Silicon Valley has made me fall in love with this beautiful city all over again.

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A writer with a strong focus on feel-good local stories in and around the San Jose area. Animal Lover, Physical Therapist, and Local Business Supporter.

San Jose, CA
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