Centennial Rose Garden

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Welcome to the Centennial Rose Garden

The Centennial Rose Garden, on the grounds of the Schmidt House in Tumwater, WA, is arguably the most significant rose garden between Tacoma and Portland. It has a rich history, having been dedicated in June, 1989 as a Washington Centennial project by the Olympia Rose Society. The garden is co-sponsored by the Centennial Garden Foundation and the Olympia-Tumwater Foundation, which owns and manages the Schmidt House and adjacent Tumwater Falls Park – both important historic sites in the Olympia-Tumwater area.

The garden, roughly 90 by 30 feet in size, contains a collection of more than 230 bushes of some 56 varieties of modern and historic roses. Represented here are some of the finest examples of Hybrid Tea, Grandiflora and Floribunda Roses as well as Shrubs, Polyanthas, Miniatures, and historic roses. All have been meticulously and lovingly cared for during the past quarter century by volunteers from the Olympia Rose Society.

As you tour the garden, note that each variety can be found using the Bed Code (An, Bn, C, etc.) on the Garden Collection sheet, which corresponds to the Bed Code on the Garden plan. Each variety is also named by permanent markers located throughout the garden beds themselves.

The Garden is also used by the Olympia Rose Society as a teaching and outreach resource, where frequent Activities and Events are organized for interested members of the community.

The Centennial Rose Garden is open to the public daily from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM during the growing season (April through October). Visitors are asked to enter the garden through the gate adjacent to the garden shed on the north side of the garden and to close the gate when leaving. Admission is free but donations are always welcome. Such donations are used strictly for maintenance and improvement of the Centennial Rose Garden. 

Enjoy your visit! 


 

 

Activities and events

The Centennial Rose Garden hosts three important, scheduled events ever year.

Fall pruning demonstration. Every autumn, around late October, the rose bushes in the Centennial Garden are “put to bed” for winter. This involves cutting the canes back to about knee height, removing the leaves, and then mounding up the lower part of the bushes with ground bark to help them endure the cold, desiccating conditions of winter. The demonstration is conducted by members of the Olympia Rose Society (ORS) and is open to the public as an educational opportunity. ORS members are on hand to answer questions and demonstrate procedures.

Spring pruning demonstration. In mid-March the Centennial Garden is awakened and prepared for the growing season. First, winter debris and weeds are removed from the garden. Then the bark mounds are removed and the bark spread over the rose beds. Finally each bush is carefully pruned to remove any dead or diseased canes and to establish the initial architecture of the bush for the coming growing season. This annual heavy spring pruning also maintains the roses in a juvenile state – greatly enhancing bloom production. This is probably the most important event in the life of the garden. Again, the demonstration is conducted by members of the ORS and is open to the public as an educational opportunity. ORS members are always on hand to answer questions and demonstrate procedures.

Summer deadheading parties. Every week beginning in mid-May and continuing through mid-October, a team of volunteers convenes in the garden in late afternoon to deadhead the bushes (deadheading involves removing spent blossoms), remove weeds, and generally tidy up the garden.  This is often followed up with a “dinner party” at a local restaurant - a reward for a job well done.

Unscheduled events. From time to time the Centennial Garden hosts other events such as a LakeFair-related celebration, garden tours, lectures on roses and rose gardening given at the Schmidt House, and various other activities. All events are free to the public.

 

A Brief History of the Centennial Rose Garden

 

The Olympia Rose Society, which was founded in 1954, had for many years held monthly meetings at the Community Center on 4th Avenue in Olympia. They had also established, and had been tending, a small rose garden on the west side of the Center. This garden contained many varieties of modern, ever-blooming roses that were popular during the 1950s, 60s and 70s. The rose garden served as an educational resource for the ORS for many decades and was the only rose garden in the Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater area open to public enjoyment.

In the mid-1980s the City of Olympia announced that the old Community Center was to be torn down and replaced by a new facility on Columbia Street in downtown Olympia. As a result, the ORS suddenly faced the need both to find a new meeting location and a new home for its rose garden.

At this point in time the early stages of planning for the Washington State Centennial celebration, which was to be held in 1989, were underway. The ORS explored opportunities for creating a new rose garden in the Olympia area that would contain not only the rose bushes growing at the old community center, but also a number of historic roses - roses known to have been grown in this area during the mid to late 1800s. It was felt that the establishment of such a garden would be a perfect project for the Society to undertake in celebration of the Centennial.

So a search began for a site for the new garden and funding was sought for the project. Following a suggestion from Derek Valley, then curator of the Olympia Capitol Museum, the ORS contacted the Olympia Tumwater Foundation (OTF). The Foundation owns and operates the Schmidt House adjacent to the Olympia Brewery as well as the Tumwater Falls Park. One of the primary goals of the Foundation is to raise money to provide scholarships for local high school students planning to attend college. One of the methods for obtaining such funds is by renting out the Schmidt House for conferences, meetings and weddings.

During 1987, talks were held between Don Lee, Vice President and General Manager of the Foundation, and Gary Ritchie, ORS President. These talks were aimed at establishing a “Centennial Rose Garden” on the grounds of the Schmidt House in conjunction with the Washington State Centennial celebration. On January 18, 1988, an agreement was entered into by the ORS and the OTF stating that such a garden would be established on the site of an old tennis court immediately adjacent to the Schmidt House.

Funds were then sought by the ORS to construct this rose garden. A $500 “mini-grant” was made available to the society by “Thurston County Centennial ‘89” to begin the project. An additional $8,500 was raised by the Society, through the extraordinary effort of ORS member Mr. Joy Ayres, who solicited donations from dozens of local businesses and countless citizens.

Construction of the garden began in 1987. Some 150 plants from the old Community Center were dug and moved from that garden to the new garden site on the Schmidt House grounds in spring 1988. During the next year more rose plants were purchased and the Centennial Rose Garden was completed in time for its dedication.

The dedication was held on June 24, 1989 in conjunction with the annual convention and rose show of the Pacific Northwest District of the American Rose Society, which was held in Olympia and hosted by the Olympia Rose Society. The dedication ceremony was attended by approximately 300 people from the Pacific Northwest region. Washington First Lady Jean Gardner was the featured speaker.

In the quarter-century that has followed, ORS members have continually maintained this garden. All of the costs of maintenance have been borne by the society. Currently the garden occupies a fenced site approximately 30 feet by wide by 90 feet long and contains approximately 230 rosebushes of 56 different varieties. Over the years many of the older bushes, having  succumbed to old age and disease, have been removed or replaced by modern, ever-blooming roses - many of which have been selected for disease resistance as well as for bloom quality and fragrance.

Of the many and varied projects that were undertaken around the State of Washington as part of the Centennial celebration, the Centennial Rose Garden remains among the very few still in existence. It is without doubt the finest rose garden in the area, is visited by numerous people throughout summer, and has become truly an important and historic community asset. Many of the weddings and other fund-raising events that are held on the grounds of the Schmidt House are held in or near the garden site. It is an important draw for the Olympia Tumwater Foundation in its effort to gain customers to the Schmidt House grounds in support of their scholarship program.

The Garden is open from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM during the blooming season, which begins in late April and runs through the middle of October.  Visitors are asked to enter and exit through the North entrance (next to the garden shed) and to close the gate when leaving to keep the local deer population from munching on the rose bushes. Admission is free but a donation box is available at the south end of the garden for those who may wish to contribute to its maintenance.

 


 

The Centennial Rose Garden Collection

Rose Name

Type

Color

Date intro.

Number

Bed code

Comments

Watercolors

S

Yel. blend

2006

6

An

 

Marilyn Monroe

HT

Apr. blend

2001

6

An

 

Gemini

HT

Pink blend

1999

4

An

 

Pope John Paul II

HT

White

2007

6

An

Very fragrant

Betty Boop

F

Red blend

1999

4

An

 

Let Freedom Ring

HT

Med. red

2005

6

An

9/11 tribute

Fame!

Gr.

Deep pink

1998

3

As

 

Falling In Love

HT

Pink blend

2006

4

As

 

Blueberry Hill

F

Mauve

1999

2

As

 

Rosa gallica

Sp.

Deep pink

B. 1500

1

As

Historic

Pretty Lady

F

Light pink

1997

3

As

 

Julia Child

F

Med. yellow

2005

3

As

 

Sparrieshoop

S

Light pink

1953

1

As

On trellis

Jeanne Lajoie

Cl.Min.

Medium pink

1976

1

As

On trellis

Louise Estes

HT

Pink blend

1991

1

As

 

Marie Pavie

Pol.

White

1888

4

Bn

Historic

Love and Peace

HT

Yel. blend

2001

6

Bn

 

Iceberg

F

White

1958

7

Bn

 

Dream Come True

Gr.

Yel. blend

2006

6

Bn

 

Gold Medal

Gr.

Med. yellow

1981

6

Nn

 

Olympiad

HT

Medium red

1983

7

Bs

 

Red Fairy

Pol.

Medium red

1995

1

Bs

 

Granada

HT

Red blend

1963

4

Bs

Very fragrant

Double Delight

HT

Red blend

1976

4

Bs

Very fragrant

Hot Cocoa

F

Russet

2001

4

Bs

 

Peace

HT

Yel. blend

1945

4

Bs

Historic

Chicago Peace

HT

Pink blend

1962

1

Bs

Sport of Peace

Flaming Peace

HT

Red blend

1965

1

Bs

Sport of Peace

Jan’s Wedding*

NC

 

 

1

Bs

ORS member

Ham-Pic One*

NC

 

 

1

Bs

ORS member

La France

HT

Light pink

1867

1

Bs

Historic

Mme. Caroline Testout

HT

Medium pink

1890

1

Bs

Historic

Queen Elizabeth

Gr.

Medium pink

1954

4

Bs

Historic

William Shakespeare

Aust.

Medium red

2000

1

Bs

 

Pink Robusta

S

Medium red

1979

1

Bs

 

Liverpool Echo

F

Orange pink

1966

3

C

 

Elina

HT

Light yellow

1984

2

C

 

Electron

HT

Deep pink

1971

7

C

 

New Zealand

HT

Light pink

1989

6

C

Very fragrant

Paul Shirville

HT

Orange pink

1981

3

C

 

Sunsprite

F

Deep yellow

1973

5

D

 

Pristine

HT

White

1977

4

D

 

Milestone

HT

Red blend

1984

6

D

 

Livin’ Easy

F

Orange blend

1992

4

D

 

Elizabeth of Glamis

F

Orange pink

1964

4

E

 

Fragrant Cloud

HT

Orange red

1967

8

E

Very fragrant

Colorific

F

Orange blend

2009

4

E

 

Keepsake

HT

Pink blend

1981

5

E

 

Playboy

F

Red blend

1976

6

F

 

Die Welt

HT

Orange blend

1976

6

F

 

Tournament of Roses

Gr.

Pink blend

1988

3

F

 

Sexy Rexy

F

Medium pink

1985

8

F

 

Waiheke

Gr.

Orange pink

1987

4

G

 

Loving Memory

HT

Medium red

1983

5

G

 

Andrea Stelzer

HT

Light pink

1992

4

G

 

Escapade

F

Mauve

1967

8

G

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*These roses were hybridized by Olympia Rose Society member the late Dr. Neil Adams. They have not been officially classified by the American Rose Society.

Key

Type: HT = hybrid tea; F = floribunda; Gr. = grandiflora; S = shrub; Sp. = species; Min. = miniature; Cl. In. = climbing miniature; Aust. = Austin; Pol. = polyantha

Date intro: Date variety was introduced into commerce.

Loc: Location within the Centennial Garden (see Garden Plan).

 

 

© 2008,  The Olympia Rose Society . This page last modified:  Saturday, March 21, 2015