Planting a new Rose Garden! Prospect Park officials call for ideas to revive forgotten patch of greenspace

Planting a new Rose Garden! Prospect Park officials call for ideas to revive forgotten patch of greenspace
Prospect Park Alliance

Everyone is invited to this garden party.

Caretakers of Prospect Park are asking community members for ideas to revive the Rose Garden, a once-vibrant patch of Brooklyn’s Backyard that has withered due to years of neglect.

“It was almost a botanic garden before the Brooklyn Botanic Garden opened,” said Prospect Park Alliance spokeswoman Deborah Kirschner. “But the park went through periods of decline, and the Rose Garden fell into disuse.”

The conservancy, working with local environmental planning group Hester Street Collaborative, will host a workshop on June 10 at which park lovers can tour the garden and suggest new plans for the space, which sits near the Vale of Cashmere, inside a 26-acre parcel that is now being revitalized with the help of four weed-munching goats.

The barren Rose Garden will then, according to another Prospect Park Alliance rep, be planted with 7,000 pinwheels for an exhibit that opens July 7.

“There will be an art installation as a way of getting people up to the area,” Lucy Gardner said.

That’s rosey: The Rose Garden as it appeared around the turn of the century.
Prospect Park Alliance

The garden’s use has varied since the Prospect Park opened 150 years ago. The green space’s designer, Frederick Law Olmsted, designated the area as an oasis for borough tots named the Children’s Playground and for years it was filled with Victorian-era playthings that included the park’s first carousel, which was drawn by real horses.

Park honchos then hired the architectural firm McKim, Mead, and White around the turn of the 20th century to transform the playground into the Rose Garden, which was then the park’s crowning botanical achievement.

The city built fountains in the garden in the 1960s, but they quickly broke down and the area began its decline into disuse.

The space is now a garden in name only, and while park workers diligently maintain the quiet patch, it does little to attract patrons, according to Kirschner.

“A lot of people don’t even know it’s there, and that’s what made us interested in making it more amenable to the public,” she said.

The conservancy will identify which new Rose Garden ideas it will move forward with in the next few months, then move on to the design phase, Gardner said.

Padding it out: An 1897 photo of a girl lounging on a lily pad in the Rose Garden section of Prospect Park.
Prospect Park Alliance

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.