The Roseto Comunale is a famous public rose garden in Rome.
Free for both Roman citizens and tourists alike to visit, Roseto Comunale is only open for a few weeks during the roses’ main flowering period, which is around mid-April to mid-June.
The opening date is April 21st as this links to Rome’s birthday. The date traditionally celebrated as the birth of Rome, when Romulus founded the city in 735 BC.
It is a remarkably tranquil rose garden, yet is situated on the Aventine Hill only a short distance from the busy thoroughfare surrounding the Circus Maximus.
Having got used to seeing rose gardens planted with herbs and herbaceous perennials it seemed odd to see gardens planted only with roses. A flashback to my childhood and teenage years when rose gardens were just that!
The Roseto Comunale – History and Rose Collection
The Roseto Comunale lies in Valle Murcia which includes the Circus Maximus. In the 3rd century BC the area housed a temple of Flora. Meaning ‘flower’ in Latin, Flora was the Roman goddess of spring, and features on Plews Spring garden eBook. Her festival, Floralia, took place around May Day. Later this area was used for agriculture.
From c 1645 it became a Jewish cemetery. Which leads to another point of particular interest: the layout, not of the roses but of the paths. The site was presented to the city when the Jewish cemetery relocated in 1934. As a mark of respect and gratitude, the layout of the paths diving the beds in the collection form the shape of the Menorah, the seven branched candlestick of Judaism. This is best appreciated from above, but the gate through which one enters the permanent collection of roses is effectively the point of the centre candle.
The rose garden’s extensive permanent collection is laid out in the different categories of roses. Information boards in Italian and English explain some of the background; for example, how a particular type of rose was developed.
Dogs are allowed in the garden, on lead, but there are strict instructions on not lying on the grass. Not that there’s a need to, with plenty of seats and benches to rest on and admire the view down to Circus Maximus or drink in the fragrance of the roses.
The Roseto Comunale – some of the Roses
With over 1100 different roses within the municipal gardens it would be a very long blog indeed to photograph all of them! And as it happens, some of the earlier, single blooming roses had in fact finished flowering on our visit. Naturally, we also wanted to spend time admiring the flowers, their form, their scent.
The photos are tagged with the name, type and usually the plant breeders name. However, most have a brief caption below for your convenience.
rose parfum de nuit, delicious fragrance
rose papillon, one of the china roses
rose glamour, gorgeous colour and form, although not much scent
rose majestic, lovely large blooms, slight scent, floribunda
rose sally holmes, named for the athlete, a climbing rose; Roman forum in the background
rose l’academie d’orleans, moderate fragrance and a good cup shape flower
rosa princess alexandra, strongly scented
rose athena, named after the roman goddess of wisdom; with a rich damask fragrance
rose parfum tropical, another richly fragrant rose
rose melusine, such a stunning colour, positively glowing
rose heaven scent, pretty lilac blue petals and a good fragrance
The Roseto Comunale – Premio Roma
The international Roman Rose competition was established in 1933 and is among the first taking place in the year that are dedicated to roses and the cultivation of this flowering shrub. Originally the event was held in Colle Oppio. It moved to the present location on the Aventine Hill in 1951. 2017 sees the 75th Competition and 107 new varieties of roses competed.
Rome’s international competition for new varieties of roses is sponsored by the Environmental Sustainability in partnership with the Department of Environmental Protection of Roma Capitale
The competition includes varieties of roses which are not yet for sale, and may not be for the retail market at all, but are developed for various research projects. This is due in part to the position Rome’s horticulturalists, botanists and floriculturists have in the world of roses. Rome’s climate is ideal for their propagation. The usual technique for developing new cultivars is by grafting rather than seed, in particular, bud grafting.
The categories considered include Floribunda roses, Hybrid Tea roses, Sarmentose or climbing roses, and garden or shrub roses. I love that they also have three special awards. One for children La Rosa dei Bambini. Scented roses, la Rosa piu profumata– judged by perfumers and Painterly Roses, la Rosa dei Pittori, judged by botanical illustrators.
If Rome is famous for its roses, it is also famous for its many drinking fountains. Visitors to the rose gardens can top up their water bottles at an ornate fountain, courtesy of a spitting dolphin. Whilst the rose plants are watered daily with a hose, ensuring that the water gets to the roots of the plant rather than spraying the foliage.
Some Other Gardening Blogs you may enjoy
Rose Gardens – the Scent of Paradise
Scented Roses, rose bushes, climbers, fragrant flowers
When to Prune Roses
Shakespeare – Midsummer Nights Dream – Garden Design Inspiration
Inspiration for a Courtyard Herb Garden