On October 24, 2009, Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, joined by NYC Parks & Recreation, Manhattan Borough Commissioner Bill Castro and noted Rosarian Stephen Scanniello, president of the Heritage Rose Foundation, broke ground on the nation’s first official “Heritage Rose District” in West Harlem and Southern Washington Heights.
The Heritage Rose District generally encompasses the western portion of Northern Manhattan between West 130th and West 162nd streets, with Broadway and Trinity Cemetery at its nexus. The neighborhoods of West Harlem and Washington Heights – both with ample open spaces and a rich history – provide a perfect setting for growing and displaying roses, especially when plantings are inspired by local heritage. In each instance, all of the roses being planted are varieties that once grew in Manhattan during the 18th and 19th centuries. In fact, many of the roses were originally grown in gardens located in Northern Manhattan. The roses planted in the Heritage Rose District have been donated by nurseries across the country, from as far away as California.
Inspired by recently planted heritage roses at the grave of notable New Yorkers interred in Trinity Church Cemetery and Mausoleum, the Rose District was conceived as a means to strengthen the public’s ties to the area’s rich heritage and to raise the visibility of their neighborhoods.
The planting of the commemorative roses was spearheaded by the Heritage Rose Foundation, a nonprofit organization established in 1986, devoted to the preservation of old roses. In the Spring of 2009, the Foundation planted the Harison’s Yellow, thought to be the original “Yellow Rose of Texas,” near the grave of George Folliott Harison, who in the 1830’s created this rose in his Manhattan garden. On the grounds of Trinity Church Cemetery and Mausoleum, the grave of John James Audubon is marked by the “Audubon,” a red rose created to celebrate the famed naturalist whose estate became Trinity Church Cemetery.
District boundaries and planting sites
The Heritage Rose District encompasses the western portion of Northern Manhattan generally between West 135th and West 163rd streets, with Broadway and Trinity Cemetery at its nexus. With additional plantings on the historic grounds of Trinity Cemetery and at several other nearby locations, the Heritage Rose District, with an initial collection of over a hundred roses bushes, was established by the Manhattan Borough President’s Office and the Heritage Rose Foundation in Fall 2009 (see map).
Expanding and sustaining the Heritage Rose District
Proposals for additional planting sites are welcome. Because roses thrive only under specific conditions, it is important that future planting sites meet the following criteria: ample sunlight, protection from the elements, separation from walking paths, protection from road salt and other de-icing agents, and dedicated maintenance by an individual or organization. Sites that are also surrounded by fencing and/or on raised beds are particularly well suited.
The Borough President and the Heritage Rose Foundation are especially grateful to the nurseries from around the country that generously donated the rose bushes to begin this very special project: Antique Rose Emporium of Brenham, TX; Ashdown Roses of Redlands, CA; Brookville Nursery of Glenhead, NY; Der Rosenmeiseter of Ithaca, NY; Florida Southern College of Lakeland, FL; Presby Iris Garden of Montclair, NJ; Roses Unlimited of Laurens, SC; and Vintage Gardens of Sebastopol, CA.
Office of Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer • 212.669.8300
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