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rose garden, featuring the rose tower

Olbrich's Rose Garden is an extraordinary two-acre garden that showcases all type of roses blended with colorful perennials, waving ornamental grasses, showy shrubs, ornamental trees, annuals and spring blooming bulbs. Drawn together in a Prairie style design with a 30-foot tower and fountains built of native stone, this innovative combination of plants dazzles the visitor year round.

The Rose Garden celebrates the beauty and adaptability of hardy and environmentally friendly shrub roses. Olbrich's Rose Garden embraces the climate and gardening challenges of the Upper Midwest and creates a sustainable rose garden for all of our beautiful seasons.

While roses are wonderful on their own, they are even lovelier when planted in combination with other hardy plants. In Olbrich's Rose Garden, colorful bulbs announce the arrival of spring. Roses, annuals, perennials, and shrubs peak throughout the summer. Grasses usher in autumn and provide a backdrop for the winter interest garden. Brilliant rose hips, colorful fruit and bark of trees and shrubs and the architectural "bones" of the garden emerge through winter's snow, bringing the garden full circle into spring.

Prairie Style Design
Prairie style architecture, as developed by Frank Lloyd Wright, was the first truly American form of architecture. The Prairie style is typified by simplified geometric designs that harmonize with nature and are constructed of natural materials. Prairie style architecture is a defining feature throughout the Midwestern United States and at Olbrich Botanical Gardens. The Madison landscape architectural firm of Ken Saiki Design carried this style into Olbrich's Rose Garden using native limestone to create a true sense of place.

To connect the architecture with the garden's rose theme, the design team focused on the five-petal symmetry of the rose family. The forecourt fountain has five water jets, and the weeping wall in the center courtyard features five mini-waterfalls.

The Rose Garden Tower, the garden's most prominent feature, was designed by Madison architect Ron Bowen. This handsome two-story tower is accessible to all and offers spectacular views of the Rose Garden and beyond.

Shrub Roses
Olbrich's Rose Garden features the shrub rose because of its beauty and its tough, resilient nature. Many of these winter-hardy, disease-resistant plants bloom repeatedly throughout the season, are deliciously fragrant, and come in a bounty of colors. A number have ornamental fruit, called hips, which adds to the beauty of the dormant landscape. Some shrub roses offer beautiful foliage, both during the season and in the fall. Factor in lower water requirements and minimal need for pesticides, and the shrub rose distinguishes itself as a near-perfect plant for a beautiful, sustainable garden in the Upper Midwest.

Many new shrub rose introductions hit the market each year. Olbrich's Rose Garden will provide the opportunity to grow and evaluate many more of these new cultivars, keeping the best and composting those that don't perform well in the Midwest.

Sustainable Rose Garden
In keeping with its commitment to create, conserve, and interpret garden and plants hardy to the American Midwest, Olbrich has created a sustainable Rose Garden. This is a garden that is adapted to and sustained in our climate, without extraordinary water, chemical, and care demands. It is a garden that shows the visitor and the gardener the possibilities and beauty of a sustainable garden - a garden that honors what is perhaps the world's most beloved flower in a setting that thrives through spring, summer, fall, and winter.

Olbrich's Rose Garden also features a rain garden, a landscape feature used to control water run-off. During a storm, rainwater collects in the garden where it is gradually absorbed into the soil to help recharge our ground water. Rain gardens minimize the volume and improve the quality of water entering conventional storm drains and nearby streams.

All-America Rose Selections Display Garden

Olbrich Botanical Gardens is proud to be an accredited All-America Rose Selections Display Garden, one of only two such AARS-accredited gardens in Wisconsin. As a AARS Display Garden, Olbrich receives AARS winners a year before they are available to the public. The winners are planted in the Rose Garden, and specially labeled as AARS winners. Olbrich displays all of the more recent years' winners, as well as select winners from the past, such as 'Mr. Lincoln' a deep red hybrid tea rose from 1965.

AARS is a non-profit association dedicated to the introduction of exceptional roses for today's gardener, and to helping people find the best roses for their garden. Since 1930, the AARS trial program has encouraged the rose industry to improve the vitality, disease resistance, and beauty of roses for American home gardens. Every AARS winning rose completes an extensive two-year trial program where it's judged on 15 characteristics, from disease resistance and flower production, to color and fragrance. In recent years, AARS has mirrored Olbrich's interest in hardier, lower maintenance roses by awarding All-America status to more shrub roses, including the Wisconsin bred 2000 winner, 'Knock Out.' For more information about AARS, visit www.rose.org.


Olbrich Botanical Gardens is operated as a public-private partnership between the City of Madison Parks Division and the Olbrich Botanical Society.
Olbrich Botanical Gardens | 3330 Atwood Avenue, Madison, WI 53704. | Phone: (608)246-4550 | Fax: (608)246-4719