|A Very Big, But Very Rewarding, Job|
Tending and the garden was Ruth Smelser's job for 23 years. She said that and at its peak keeping its more than 100 rose plants and many other annuals and perennials healthy and beautiful took her about 15-20 hours a week, but, she added, it made her happy.
A rustic, handcrafted sign greets visitors to this remarkable garden. This is the main entrance, which leads visitors in from the park and is on the garden's west side..
And at the base of the sign, a beautiful Clematis we think is most likely the variety, 'The President'.
The east entrance to the garden is framed by an antique arbor, through which Ruth can be seen surveying the roses. She says the effect she most strives for in the design of the Rose Garden is "Serendipity,"adding. "I hope that that as visitors walk through the garden they'll repeatedly be surprised."
|The South Entrance|
The south entrance to the garden features an attractive brick entryway and hedge.
|Glory in the Morning|
From the west entrance the view looking out on Phelps Grove Park is beautifully framed by morning glories growing lushly along the arbor.
The south entrance view of the garden is especially appealing when the roses are coming into bloom.
|A Catmint Walk|
The plant commonly called Catmint (Nepeta species) with its silvery foliage and lovely lavender-blue flowers makes a wonderfully inviting border along the walk. A perennial, Catmint grows vigorously in the Ozarks into a beautifully symmetrical mound only a foot or so high, which makes it ideal for edging or low hedges.
Another highly effective border plant is Bishop's Weed (Aegopodium podagraria), which brings to the garden variegated leaves and bright white flowers. Other common names include Snow-on-the-Mountain and Goutweed. Vigorous and fast-growing, it thrives in sun or deep shade and even in very poor soils. Note: This plant does spread so rapidly that it's been labeled a noxious weed by some states and many gardeners avoid it altogether.
|A Purple Hyacinth Bean|
In the late summer, the east entryway arbor supports an unusually healthy growth of Purple Hyacinth Bean (Lablab purpurea), here showing a bumper crop of its shiny seedpods.
|Two Gardens in One|
The Rose Garden can be said to be two gardens in one. Here is a view from the roses area down the pathway to the "back garden", which contains some large and quite remarkable island beds.
|Another Beautiful Border Plant|
Along the pathway leading to the island beds are these wonderful flowers so poetically christened "Love-in-a-Mist." Their common name is Persian Jewels and their botanical name Nigella damascena. As an annual it must be replanted every year, but it's easy to grow and thrives beautifully in our region.
|Persian Jewels Up Close|
A closer view of the Persian Jewel border makes the name "Love-In-a-Mist' perfectly understandable, no?
|A White Highlight|
Also near the island beds is one of the plants Ruth adds to complement the roses, an unusually beautiful white Hollihock.
|The Island Beds|
The island beds in the Phelps Grove Rose Garden are in our opinion models of beautiful island bed design, as in this circular bed on the verge of bursting into bloom in May. We'll be showing you more of these lovely beds, but first, let's look at the garden's main subject--its marvelous collection of uniquely distinctive roses.
|Focusing on the Roses|
We can't think of a more beautifully designed rose garden than this one n Phelps Grove Park. Ruth has beautifully blended a diversity of plants for most interesting mix of color, shape, texture. Note also the wonderful use of blue Russian Sage along the perimeter, a perfect background for virtually all of the roses.
'Be-Bop' is a marvelous, eye-grabbing shrub rose that from spring to frost bears huge clusters of large, 3-inch-wide single red flowers with cheery yellow centers. The flowers are lightly fragrant. The plant grows to 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide and is ideal in the garden or planted en masse in the landscape.
'Bonica' is a very special rose indeed. Named an All-America Rose in 1987, it was subsequently voted the World's Favorite Rose
in 1997 by the World Federation of Rose Societies. 'Bonica' bears large
sprays of mildly fragrant pink flowers on dark green foliage all season
long. This bushy rose can grow 4-8 feet tall. Note: The flowers are
said to be edible.
|'Brilliant Pink Iceberg'|
'Brilliant Pink Iceberg' is a floribunda rose with dark
green foliage and clusters of beautiful, deep-pink semi-double flowers
from spring to frost. The blossoms are mildly fragrant and their color
deepens in cooler weather. Great for mass plantings, borders, and
hedges, grows upright, bushy, and rounded and can reach 3 1/2 feet tall
and as wide.
|'Captain Harry Stebbings'|
'Captain Harry Stebbings' is a hybrid tea rose much admired for its highly fragrant, deep-pink blossoms, its upright growth to a height of 6 feet, and excellent disease resistance.
'Carefree Delight' is one of the beautiful Carefree shrub roses developed by the French company Meilland. Everblooming, it gives any garden or landscape charming color from spring to fall and is outstanding when planted en masse.. The carmine-pink-and-white flowers are tiny, only an inch and a half wide, but abundant in clusters. The plant grows quickly to 3 feet tall by 3-4 feet wide. In 1965 it won an All-American Rose Society Award.
|'Carefree Delight' Up Close|
This closer view of 'Carefree Delight' better reveals its subtle "blushing" coloration.
Another of the Carefree series of superb landscaping roses, 'Carefree Sunshine' features bright lemon-yellow flowers with orange stamens from early spring till frost. The flowers are fragrant and also make excellent cut flowers. The plant can grow to 4 feet tall and as wide. As you can see, the plant is beautiful even when in bud.
|'Carefree Sunshine' Up Close|
This closer look at the open flowers of 'Carefree Sunshine' reveals the semidouble petals and vivid orange stamens.
Yet another in the Carefree series of outstanding shrub roses, 'Carefree Wonder' boasts bright pink-and-white flowers with a white eye. Like others in the series it blooms throughout the season and is especially effective planted en masse. The flowers are lightly fragrant. The plant can grow to 4 feet tall with a similar spread. An All-American Rose Selection Award winner in 1991.
'Cherish' is a favorite of a good many gardeners as a floribunda rose that produces beautiful, perfectly
formed, shell-pink flowers all season long. The blossoms have a slight
spicy scent. The plant is compact and symmetrical and grows to 4 feet in
height. A superb choice for any garden.
'Color Magic' is said to be one of the tallest of all hybrid tea roses, in some situations growing as tall as 6-8 feet. Its lovely pink flowers will undergo some color changes during the season depending on heat and light. The blossoms have a rich, fruity fragrance and are borne on long, straight stems, which make them ideal as cut flowers.
The 'Dolly Parton' rose is a vigorous, bushy hybrid tea rose that bears flowers as striking as its namesake. It blooms in repeated flushes from May until frost with an abundance of large, extremely fragrant, vivid orange-red blossoms. The plant grows to 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide.
|'Flower Carpet Red'|
'Flower Carpet Red' boasts the richest red in the popular Flower Carpet series of landscaping roses. The plant can reach 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide and produces masses of gorgeous, velvety. deep-red single flowers with bright yellow stamens. It can bloom for up to 10 months of the year and has great disease resistance. A superb rose in the garden or planted en masse as a ground cover.'
'Fuchsia Meilland' is a shrub rose that bears a great profusion of saucer-like mauve pink flowers throughout the season. Because it grows into a mound 2 feet high and 4 feet wide, it makes an superb groundcover as well as an engaging garden plant. Bonus: It's also highly disease-resistant.
The 'Gene Boerner' floribunda rose is a favorite with
many gardeners for its abundance of medium pink, slightly fragrant
flowers all season long. Often described as "super vigorous," the plant
grows to 4 feet tall and is excellent for borders, hedges, and mass
plantings. Note: 'Gene Boerner'
is named for a famed Jackson & Perkins hybridizer who developed
some 60 floribunda roses in his lifetime, 11 of which received given
All-America Rose Selections awards.
In 2009 the 'Graham Thomas' rose received the voted
award as the World's Favourite Rose by the World Federation of Rose
Societies, which represents 41 member countries. Considered a medium shrub or short
climbing English rose, 'Graham Thomas' is bred by David Austin Roses and named after
famed rosarian Graham Stuart Thomas. The plant is very hardy and a
repeat bloomer, and the flowers have a strong tea fragrance.
The Home Run Rose is a real winner in the garden or landscape, bearing a profusion of richly flame-red single flowers with cheery yellow centers
all through the season. It also has excellent resistance to blackspot. and total resistance
to mildew. This shrub rose grows 3-4 feet tall and as wide. Introduced in 2006 by Weeks Roses, Home Run
is descended from the Knock Out rose, 'Baby Love', and the 'City of San
'Iceberg' is often referred to by gardeners and garden
writers as "the best white rose of all time." This floribunda rose
grows into a mounding shrub 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide and is covered
throughout the season with pure-white double flowers with a distinct
honey fragrance, making it superb for beds, borders, hedges, or mass
landscape plantings. Bonus: 'Iceberg' is also available as a climbing rose, in which form it's been known to reach 30 feet in length.
|'Lady Elsie May'|
'Lady Elsie May' is truly prized by a great many gardeners for its uniquely lovely and delicate semi-double and double coral-pink flowers and rich, glossy-green foliage.The plant is a repeat bloomer, grows upright to 3-5 feet tall and 2 feet wide, and excellent disease resistance. In 2005, 'Lady Elsie May' won an All-American Rose Selection Award.
'Lavender Simplicity' is one of the 'Simplicity' series
of roses called hedge roses that were developed to provide 4-5-foot
tall walls of color. These roses are known for their vigor, disease
resistance, and clusters of beautiful flowers all summer long. 'Lavender
Simplicity' stands out especially for its rich, orange-blossom
fragrance. The series also includes yellow, pink, and white roses.
'Memorial Day' is a hybrid tea rose of real
distinction. An All-America Rose Selection in 2004, it features very
large, full blossoms with more than 50 petals, unusually long cutting
stems, and rich green foliage. The flower is almost singularly fragrant
and the color a beautiful pink touched with lavender. The plant grows
upright to 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide, and disease resistance is very
'Morden Fireglow' is an exceptionally compact shrub
rose with very fragrant red-orange flowers all season long. It grows
vigorously to 1 1/2-3 feet tall by 2-3 feet wide and is ideal for beds,
borders, and containers.
is a hybrid tea rose believed by many to be "the best red rose" for its
rich, leathery green foliage; large, velvety, dark-red blossoms; and
intense fragrance. The blooms can be 6 inches in diameter and the plant 6
more tall. An All-America Rose Selection in 1965, 'Mr. Lincoln'
continues to win
devotees. An extremely vigorous grower, it's of course best suited for
the back of
the rose bed.
'Nearly Wild' is a newly developed floribunda shrub
rose with the beloved "wild rose" look so desired today. Growing 2-3
feet tall, it bears large clusters of fragrant single pink roses all
season long. Ideal for borders, containers, barriers, and mass
plantings, this rose also attracts butterflies and is excellent for cut
'Nicole' is an exceptionally beautiful bicolor
floribunda rose with semi-double flowers that are basically white with
blushes of color that may range from pale pink to red. The blossoms
appear in large clusters in summer and autumn. The plant grows 2-3 feet
tall with a similar spread. It is susceptible to disease, especially in
humid areas like the Ozarks, and may require some care
One of the relatively few hybrid tea roses in the
garden, 'Paradise' was an All-America Rose Selection in 1979, and for
good reason. Gardeners love it for its exceptional vigor, prolific
blooming, and the beauty of its almost-bicolor blossoms. A winner in any
garden, this rose is also known as 'Burning Sky' and 'Passion'.
'Piñata' is a marvelous, vigorous rose that blooms continually, producing a great abundance of 3-inch double blossoms that mix many hues of orange and yellow. (The coloration is often compared to that of 'Joseph's Coat', but 'Piñata' produces a great many more blossoms.) The plant can reach 6-9 feet tall with a 6-foot spread, making it ideal for growing on fences, arbors, or trellises; in fact, it's often sold as a climbing rose named "Climbing Piñata."
|A Pink Miniature|
This pink miniature rose wasn't labeled, but we have to include it because, well, isn't it obvious?
'Proud Land' is a vigorous hybrid tea rose that produces clusters of very showy, extra-double (meaning extra petals) fragrant red flowers. The plant grows as an upright shrub and can reach 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide. If deadheaded promptly it can produce more than one flush of bloom.
'Ruby Magic is an engaging miniature rose that produces lightly fragrant, double, medium-red flowers and attractive, glossy green foliage. The plant grows to 18 inches high with a 2-foot spread. It's charming, to be sure, but is also said to be subject to many diseases and therefore rather high maintenance.
|A Rugosa Rose|
Rugosa Roses (Rosa rugosa) are shrub roses native to Asia that bear single flowers ranging in color from pink to red. Rugged and virtually indestructible, they hybridize readily and are prized for their vigor and extreme disease-resistance. Cultivar flower colors can range from white to dark purple. The plant grows 4-6 feet tall and as wide. As it's a suckering shrub, it spreads quickly enough to be labeled invasive in some regions.
'Scentimental' is a floribunda rose that bears clusters of exceptionally beautiful and highly fragrant variegated blossoms. Highly resistant to disease and vigorous even in high heat and humidity, it grows to 4 feet tall and 2 feet wide. A star plant in any garden, it was honored as an All American Rose Selection in 1997.'
'Sunsprite' is a highly popular floribunda rose that
bears a profusion of bright yellow double, ruffled flowers all season
long from spring to frost. The plant is compact and grows upright to
about 3 feet tall and as wide. Borne in clusters, the blossoms have an
intense, sweetly spicy fragrance.
Unfortunately we're unable to find any information on the rose variety 'Tennessee'. All we can say is that it appears to be a shrub rose and we love its pale pink flower and muted green foliage. Note: We'll continue looking for the story on this rose, and you have any information on 'Tennessee', please help us out.
|'Touch of Class'|
'Touch of Class' is a hybrid tea rose considered a
classic for its lovely, large coral pink flowers and graceful, dark
green foliage. The plant has a beautiful vase shape, can reach 6 feet
tall, and blooms from spring to frost. The flowers are 5-7 inches wide
with long stems, making it a favorite of exhibitors.
|Unknown, But Nice|
Another unlabeled rose we couldn't help including because of its sheer beauty.
|Another Unlabeled Beauty|
Once more we have to include a rose missing its label. This one won us over big time for the pale pink of its blossoms.
'Voodoo' is a marvelous multicolored hybrid tea rose whose flowers may mix yellow, peach, apricot, salmon, pink, and red. The double blossoms are large, some 6 inches in diameter, beautifully shaped, and moderately fragrant. The plant grows upright and bushy and can reach 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide.
|A Wet White Miniature|
We've no idea of the varietal name for this miniature rose, but
we'll try to find out. We just couldn't resist the shape of the blossoms and the
water from the drip irrigator. As for the loss of some detail in the white
petals, Ruth, a professional photographer, explains to us it's caused by the glare from direct sun on white.
'Wild Thing' is a shrub rose often described as
"spectacular" and "breathtaking." It blooms in flushes throughout the
season with an amazing abundance of very striking coral pink flowers
with yellow centers and white throats. It grows to 4 feet tall and as
wide and disease resistance is good, making it a marvelous rose in beds,
borders, or the landscape.
|The Path to the Beds|
This path leads from the Roses to the garden's west section and the beautifrul island beds.
|The Northernmost Bed|
This photo shows the garden's paved patio and planters, and beyond, at its extreme north end, an island bed showcasing some outstanding ornamental grasses chosen to provide a nice diversity in color, size, and texture.
To provide even more color and life to the garden, Ruth has added some distinctive plants about the patio and in the planters. This is the Bronze Fennel shown in the previous picture. Bronze Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is a real prize in the garden for its unusual color and for its flavor--yes, it has the same licorice flavor as green fennels. It's also a host plant for the Anise Swallowtail and Eastern Black Swallowtail butterflies. Grow it as an annual in the Ozarks.
This photo shows a little more of the patio and its planters and, in the foreground, a beautiful red Celosia (Celosia argentea)), its base surrunded by 'Autumn Joy' Sedum. Sometimes called Coxcomb, Feather Celosia, and Feathered Amaranth, Celosia is an annual that thrives beautifully in the Ozarks, where it can grow as tall as 4 feet..
Another outstanding plant in the garden is white Nicotiana (Nicotiana alata), an old-fashioned favorite annual that brings a light and cheery note to any garden or landscape. Happily, it reseeds freely, and Ruth has let it do so in the Rose Garden. Nicotiana is extremely easy to grow and can reach as tall as 5 feet, adding yet another dimension to the garden.
|A Lovely Island Bed|
Let's begin our closer look at the garden's island beds with this, one of the most beautiful. Ruth says she likes a diversity of plants as well as vivid color. To both ends, she makes good use of such plants as cardoon, coneflowers, sedum, lilies, yarrow, globe thistles, canna lilies, and more.
|Coneflowers and Cardoon|
A gorgeous combination--Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) and Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus). The Coneflower is a Missouri native plant and the Cardoon, a thistle-like plant that's actually a member of the Aster family, brings brilliant blue color and the boldest texture to any garden. Note: The flower buds, stems, and leaf stems of Cardoon are edible and considered a great delicacy in some parts of the world.
|A Cardoon Closeup|
This closer look at the beautiful Cardoon flower reveals the marvelous contrast between its delicate flower and rugged, spiny buds.
|Bold and Yellow |
This bright, showy yellow flower we think is Centaurea macrocephala, or Globe Centaurea, a perennial which in full sun bears a profusion of flowers from midsummer into early fall. It can grow to 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide and reseeds freely. The flowers, which attract butterflies, also make outstanding cut flowers. Other common names: Yellow Hardhat and Armenian Basket Flower.
|A Study in Textures|
We can't imagine a better model for illustrating garden textures than this smaller island bed, whch Ruth has filled with attractive ornamental grasses.
|A Corner Bed|
We like this island bed in the corner of the garden for its blend of eye appeal and excellent use of a space that might otherwise be wasted.
Visitors to the Rose Garden will find the island bed section unusually cool, quiet, and calming.
|Looking Back to the Roses|
From the island bed part of the garden, the view back toward the rose section of the garden seems especially inviting.
|The Sunflower That Ate Seattle|
Forgive us our little joke, but we had to do it--it's an enormous, wonderful sunflower that seemed to have outgrown the planet. We guessed its height-before-crashing to be 10-12 feet, and happening upon it without warning was a real exercise in experiencing Ruth's main goal for the garden--serendipity.
We hope you've enjoyed visiting the Phelps Grove Rose Garden and that if you're in the Springfield, Missouri, area or visiting, you'll take the opportunity to see the garden in person in 2015.