The Wilson Rose Garden provides a beautiful and extensive showplace for 1200 roses of many types, from historic Old Garden Roses to the latest All-America Selections, Inc. (AARS) award winning varieties. The collection includes 180 varieties, with 71 AARS winners.
The garden was featured in a four page review in the October-November edition of "American Rose," the journal of the American Rose Society. Included was the statement, "There is nothing more beautiful than a well-maintained rose garden, and the Wilson Rose Garden has repeatedly earned the AARS Annual Certificate for Outstanding Rose Gardens."
The garden provides an excellent site for picnics, club excursions, weddings, and tour group visits from late April through October. Located close to Interstate 95, it is a convenient stop for tourists. Admission is free.
The original idea for the Wilson Rose Garden was to create “the crown jewel” of the Wilson Parks System. The idea was endorsed by the city council on July 21, 1994, accompanied with authorization to solicit gifts and grants for its implementation.
Five objectives were selected to guide the development efforts:
1. To provide a beautiful garden for the general enjoyment of the families and citizens of Wilson
2. To give visitors an opportunity to view examples of historic old garden roses from Chinese, Greek, Roman, French and English gardens through the centuries
3. To draw attention to the place of the rose in world art, history and literature, from ancient China to Greek Mythology, to the Roman Empire, to France’s Empress Josephine, to the American pioneers, to the selection of the rose as the national flower of the United States
4. To provide a demonstration garden to showcase many types and varieties of roses, and to give prospective rose gardeners an opportunity to see the broad range of choices available in planning their own gardens
5. To develop the site as a major attraction for tourists
Strategies were devised for the achievement of each of the above objectives, and were coordinated into a comprehensive plan for development. Each area of the garden, each piece of art and each garden structure was planned to contribute to the overall achievement of these objectives.
Twelve years and approximately $150,000 in gifts and grants later, the garden is widely recognized and highly acclaimed, but is still a “work in progress,” to a degree. Many goals have been fully or partially achieved. Works by two internationally recognized artists are included in the garden art collection. Additional art works and structures are located throughout the garden. Community art is stressed in the collection and in the activities in the garden, including an annual “Rose Garden Art Contest,” with adult and youth divisions, held in conjunction with our annual festival, "Sunday in the Rose Garden" on the third Sunday in May, 2-5 p.m. Other feat;ures include music, dance performances, rose culture lectures and demonstrations, door prizes, refreshments, etc., as appropriate from year to year.
The garden is listed on numerous national and international garden directories on the world wide web. The garden maintains its own web site to provide potential visitors with an insight into what to expect, and to provide access to travel information and maps for visiting the garden. Group guided tours are provided upon request.
A major developmental objective was attained in 2001, when the garden was granted initial accreditation by All-America Rose Selections, Inc. (AARS) as a Public Garden. The following year, the garden was awarded the AARS “2002 Certificate for Outstanding Rose Garden Maintenance,” with the following citation: “Our evaluators found the Wilson Rose Garden to be in excellent condition and a real tribute to the “Queen of Flowers.” The award has been repeated annually.
In 2002, the annual “Sunday in the Rose Garden” festival was dedicated to the observance of the national “Year of the Rose,’ as declared by Congressional Resolution. In recognition of the City’s public rose garden and participation in the recognition of our National Floral Emblem , the American Rose Society declared the City of Wilson, “An American Rose City.”
Recent projects have included climbing roses and other screen plants along the rear fence boundary of the gardenl were planted by the Wilson County Green Association. A modern, roomy restroom building was constructed by the city. The garden remains a beautiful site to visit from May through October, as attested by many of our visiting tourists on their visitor registration cards. The Raleigh Rose Society held its annual rose show at the garden in 2005, attracting rosarians from several states. The garden is frequently cited by visitors as "one of the most beautiful in the US. It is not as large as many, but is just as beautiful." The photographs on this site and on our home site will provide an idea of the beauty available at the Wilson Rose Garden. In the North Carolina vernacular, “Ya’ll Come!”