This the 17th post in my series on Boston’s Hidden Gems.
A rose garden in June is an indulgence of sight and scent, a beautiful retreat in which only the bees work while human visitors can breathe deeply and relax. A rose garden that’s near the ocean adds the pleasure of a cooling breeze, salt air, and sunlight reflected by the water.
The Rose Kennedy Rose Garden is such a place, but it’s known mostly to the residents of Boston’s North End. The garden is located in the middle of Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park, a spot of shady green in the North End and easy to miss. Traffic whizzes by on Atlantic Avenue. Pedestrians along the water skirt the park and never see the gorgeous flowers growing inside. In June, it’s well worth a change of route, or an entire trip, to see this beautiful addition to Boston’s green spaces.
Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy
The Rose Kennedy Rose Garden, along with the fountain outside its south gate, were added to Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park and dedicated on July 20, 1987. This secluded space honors America’s Gold Star Mothers as well as Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, mother of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. is a Veterans Service Organization that was established in 1928 to provide support for mothers who lost sons or daughters in World War II. It was chartered by the United States Congress in 1984.
American Gold Star Mothers continue to honor their sons and daughters through service to veterans and patriotic events. Today, membership in the Gold Star Mothers is open to any American woman who has lost a son or daughter in service to the United States.
Mrs. Kennedy became a Gold Star Mother on August 12, 1944. That’s the day her oldest son, Joseph Patrick (Joe Jr.) Kennedy was lost in action when his airplane exploded over the English Channel.
The rose garden is enclosed by a granite and wrought-iron fence with gates on the north and south ends. It was designed by the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s landscape design staff, headed by Shirley Muirhead and Roger Erikson.
Just wander in and take your time smelling the roses because the garden contains many varieties with different sizes, scents, and colors. Flowers come in red, pink, coral, white, and yellow plus multi-colored blooms. They grow in profusion around, over and through the fence as well as in the borders and in the garden’s central bed,
The Rose Kennedy Rose Garden is meticulously maintained by the Friends of the Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park. This is,
“an all-volunteer non-profit organization made up of North End and Waterfront neighbors whose purpose is to further the restoration, protection, preservation, care, enhancement, improvement, and maintenance of the Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park. The FOCCP work closely with the City of Boston Parks and Recreation Department to keep the park clean and well maintained.”
Volunteers meet twice each week to work on the rose garden, the wisteria vines covering the pergola arch, and the park’s other perennial plants.They do a marvelous job.
Directions and Information
This is the month to visit the Rose Kennedy Rose Garden as the flowers are in full and spectacular bloom. You can see the garden at any time but the roses don’t last all summer. I was there on Monday morning before giving a tour for Boston By Foot and I didn’t want to leave.
To reach the garden, you can take the MBTA’s Blue Line to the Aquarium Station, then walk north along the linear park that is the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway. The Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park is located just past the Long Wharf Marriott hotel. Or get off the Orange Line and Green Lines at Haymarket and walk south until you come to Atlantic Avenue. Cross the street and you’ll be in the park. The Rose Kennedy Rose Garden is just to the left of the fountain.
If you’re driving, you can park in one of the numerous private lots along Atlantic Avenue or in the Government Center Garage.
Boston’s Hidden Gems
- The Mapparium
- Boston Public Library Courtyard
- The Ether Dome
- The Tiffany Sanctuary
- The Salada Tea Doors
- Museum Restoration
- The St. Francis Garden
- History Dioramas
- The Exchange Staircase
- The Pru Garden
- Angel of the Waters
- The Ayer Mansion Lobby
- The Vertical Garden on Merrimac Street
- The Vilna Shul
- The Great Elm on Boston Common
- The Copley Station Headhouse