After the snow melts and the mud subsides, Rochester’s public gardens will take your breath away! Here are some of my favorite gardens and music for your strolling pleasure.
Right now, the fragrance of lilacs is wafting through Highland Park, located in the Mount Hope Preservation District. Frederick Olmstead sculpted land offered by nurserymen George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry. I think it’s best to go before the crowds arrive on the second weekend of May to see and savor the fragrance of more than a thousand lilacs in full bloom.
While you’re strolling, listen to Claude Debussy himself captured on a piano roll.
The private gardens at Linwood are only open to the public for a few days once a year, but you’ll be richly rewarded for driving 35 miles southwest of Rochester, deep into the farmlands of the Genesee Valley.
A wealthy family enjoyed this garden landscape in the early 1900s from the vantage of their Arts and Crafts style summerhouse. Musicians still perform in the walled gardens, by pools and fountains, and shaded by ornamental trees. Plan a visit in late May to marvel at the tree peonies in bloom while you listen to Paul Reade’s "Suite from the Victorian Kitchen Garden."
Admire more than 3,000 roses bushes in bloom in Maplewood Park, a landscape imagined by Frederick Law Olmsted to highlight the Genesee River. The rose garden glows with every kind of rose from antique varieties to the recently-created hybrid "Princess Diana." The flowers start to unfurl in early June until nearly Thanksgiving, although the full glory usually peaks at the beginning of summer. What to listen to? Johann Strauss Jr.’s “Roses from the South” waltz, naturally!
There aren’t many exclusively blue and white gardens in the world, but one of them is close to home. It’s tucked into a corner near the Sonnenberg Mansion in Canandaigua. The inventive gardens spread out from the house and offer a fascinating and varied landscape. What do you want to see? Check out this blooming schedule and stroll around with Michael Gandolfi's "Garden of Cosmic Speculation."