Friends of Deering Oaks
The Rose Garden
When Portland's Parks Engineer William Dougherty designed the circular garden in Deering Oaks Park, he wanted a place for a floral display. That was back in the early 1930s and roses were not part of his plan. Karl Switzer, Parks Superintendent (1939-1972) on the other hand, loved roses. He transformed the original floral display area into the beloved Rose Circle.
The Rose Circle is one of 134 public rose gardens in the United States that the American Rose Society (ARS) allows to preview its "All American Rose Selections." Each year three plants each of three different new varieties are released for Portland's Rose Circle. Rose fanciers can monitor brand new, not-yet-on-the-market roses.
The nine new ARS "All-American Roses" are planted in the two special sections of the garden reserved for award winning roses. In all, the garden features approximately 38 different varieties and close to 600 rose plants. There are grandifloras, floribundas, multifloras and hybrid tea roses in the Rose Circle and 80% of them are American Rose Society varieties.
How do you maintain 600 roses? Park horticulturists follow a month-by-month written maintenance plan that produces excellent results. In fact, each year members of the Maine Rose Society inspect the rose beds and grade the quality of care. The Rose Circle horticulture staff has earned more than ten ARS certificates awarded for outstanding maintenance.