The Cranford Rose Garden


Brooklyn This Weekend


A Bed of Roses...





Damask, Alba, Noisette, Rugosa, Zéphirine Drouhin, Grandiflora, Meilland, Baronne Prčvost: roses by other names that all roll off the tongue with lyrical beauty.  The rose, iconic ancient symbol of love and object of aesthetic delight for centuries, desired for its beauty of color and form, petals that unfurl in sensual luxury, its sweet nectar and perfume.  The Brooklyn Botanic Garden -- a remarkably landscaped 52-acre expanse within Prospect Park has perhaps the finest and largest collection of roses on the East Coast, with more than 1,200 species and varieties in its Cranford Rose Garden.  Growing in raffish abandon (here it is not about the luxuriance of the blooms, but always about variety) the garden includes hybrids, wild species, old garden roses, miniatures, climbers, and ramblers.  A library of some 5000 bushes that one may browse like a bee on drowsy summer day.  And right now the roses, of every shade from white to shocking pink to that perfect deep red are flowering in all their glory (a fortuitous result of a rainy June and the perfect cooler weather this month) -- so now is the time to visit, before, as they say, the bloom is off the rose….


The Cranford Rose Garden -- a wild blur of color and light and scented summer breezes! Love, beauty, secrecy (sub rosa takes on new meanings here, kissing one's beloved under roses that climb up trellises) -- all a subway ride away.  And among the other delights at the Botanical Garden there is the Japanese Hill-and-Pond-Garden where a serene pond is encircled by trees that picturesquely droop in studied aestheticism, bridges, a gateway, a Shinto shrine…



There is also the adjacent Brooklyn Museum to visit, a minute's walk away.  Yinka Shonibare's (the UK-based Nigerian artist) installations are currently on show -- all pattern-on-pattern African fabrics, ocelots, even a brightly-colored textile take on Fragonard's The Swing (above).  African wax-print textiles were originally manufactured by the Dutch (who were influenced by the batik fabrics of their Indonesian colony) and were sold by them in Africa where they became, in many ways, native dress.  Shonibare, who uses these fabrics extensively in his work, has said: "Even things that were supposed to represent authentic Africa, didn't turn out to fulfill the expectation of authenticity."  Small surprise that in our ever-changing, mutating world, we thought, as we walked amidst the hybrids in the glistening light - and thought only about things infinite - love, beauty, sunlight, and roses.  


Visit: Cranford Rose Garden 

See: Yinka Shonibare, The Brooklyn Museum 






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