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In the 1935 American Rose Annual, edited by the esteemed rosarian and then ARS President Emeritus J. Horace McFarland, a National Rosarium of the American Rose Society was proposed. The Rosarium Committee envisioned “a vast garden devoted to the display, study, and culture of roses in all their forms, to demonstration of their capacities, and to providing facilities for research into all related subjects.


“THE ROSE GARDEN SHOULD BE A LARGE AREA… This display garden would be freely open at all times to the public, in order that color and mass effects, fragrance, and general beauty of design might commend themselves to general approbation and contribute toward making the love of roses more widespread and deeply felt.


“A BOTANICAL COLLECTION of all obtainable rose species and forms would be included as essential to the project.


“THE ROSARIUM WOULD ALSO CONSTITUTE A MUSEUM in which rare, historical and special varieties in danger of extinction could be preserve…”


"AREAS COULD BE DEVOTED TO SPECIAL EXHIBITIONS; A SUITABLE LIBRARY could also preserve books, papers, pamphlets and house something analogous to an art museum. A FINANCIAL FOUNDATION would be requisite for this great enterprise. ‘The need for this enterprise is upon us now,’ they said, and ‘the benefits will be felt at once…’ To those who think our Rosarium project is too idealistic and its benefits too far in the future, we endorse the words of great Municipal Designer D. H. Burnham:


“‘Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high and hope and work; remembering that a noble, logical design once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever growing insistency.’”


McFarland’s dream of a national rosarium has been realized in the form of America’s Rose Garden at the American Rose Center. Approximately 40 years after that vision for a National Rosarium for the American Rose Society was expressed, the rose gardens became a reality. We have a large garden, open to the public. We offer special exhibitions in the form of horticulture seminars and symposiums. We have a beautiful library where rose books, papers and pamphlets are collected and preserved. We have a financial foundation that provides annual support for the gardens. These were some of the goals in that call for a National Rosarium.

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In 2017, at a meeting of the American Rose Society Board of Directors at Gettysburg, Pa, just miles from Harrisburg, PA, where the Society was headquartered until Dec. 1953, and where McFarland made his home, J. Horace McFarland was named ‘Father of the American Rose Society.’ By so honoring this “Renaissance Man of Roses”, we are recognizing and memorializing his monumental works for the American Rose Society and indeed, for the nation.”  See Press Release 

Today, approximately 84 years from the date of that proposal, we recognize our good fortune to have such a Rosarium of 118 acres of forests and gardens. Our history is rich with developments, prideful achievements, and seasons of beautiful gardens. We made remarkable progress through the years, especially with the addition of major facilities. However, in 2016, we recognized the time had come to reassess the mission of the gardens, to recognize available resources, to evaluate our horticultural practices and bring them up to a new standard of excellence, to make the gardens the priority that they deserve to be.


The cathedral-like pines, a major identifier of the gardens had grown too tall, too massive, with too many roots and too much shade. The fence we

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provided to keep the deer out had become merely a playground obstacle on the way to a dinner of juicy new rose leaves and stems. The prime objective of our gardens—roses—were suffering. Then too, we learned that small rose beds spread out over an area of forty acres provides less garden impact than more concentrated plantings, and they are more expensive to maintain.


And so, these were the challenges we took on with the creation of the Master Plan – 2017-2022. The solutions were at the top of our list of Immediate Goals. We are pleased to report, most of these goals have been met as of December 2018.

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NEW! ‘McFarland’ rose, gifted to the American Rose Society by The House of Meilland Roses and Star Roses & Plants. ARS was given ownership of the rose, naming and registration rights, plus 450 bushes, 100 of which will be planted in the new ‘McFarland Plaza Rose Garden’ at the American Rose Center. The balance are available for sale to benefit the Great Garden Restoration Project.

The Master Plan is our blueprint for progress; it provides a worksheet for guidance and serves as a checklist for progress. It will be implemented over the next five years, with a goal of substantial completion by the year 2022 – that year will mark the 50th Anniversary of the Gardens of the American Rose Center at Shreveport, and the 130th Anniversary of the American Rose Society! The improvements that are planned will pave the way for the garden’s success for the next 50 years of our garden’s history. Progress will be monitored through goal-setting and performance reviews managed by the Executive Director and the Horticultural Consultant, and reported to the ARC Committee, the ARC Strategic Task Force and the ARS Board of Directors.


One thing is certain: we are united in our desire to take on the challenge and to succeed in rebuilding a garden that we can

be proud of. The spirit of cooperation between staff and volunteers who serve on the ARC Committee and planning sub-committees has not wavered through the process of planning for the garden’s future. We are all committed to success, and are willing to work for the ultimate result—a world-class botanic garden of Roses, where our beloved flower is preserved in an important collection, and flourishes among rose companions of seasonal interest, well-maintained features and structures, and where visitors flood the gardens with enthusiasm and a sense of wonder at the beauty of it all.

With the Great Garden Restoration Project, we are making “no little plans.” We are making “big plans!” Now, we are living up to promises that accompanied all developments to date—the promise to showcase the Rose in a beautiful and dynamic rose garden. We are doing that with the Great Garden Restoration Project, now in progress.

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Great Garden Restoration Coordinator


The Master Plan can be delivered via e-mail on request. Contact Carol Spiers

"you have a better life—one with more oxygen." — Unknown author.

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