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Apr 3, 2021

Visitors have been enchanted by the thousands of soft and fragrant rose petals in Elizabeth Park’s Rose Garden since it opened in 1904. Climbing roses intertwined in overhead garlands, hybrid tea roses and heritage roses in every color symbolize romance, friendship, and passion.

Elizabeth Park on the Hartford-West Hartford border is home to the country’s oldest public rose garden. Visitors by the thousands come to stroll in the rose garden and sit in the vine-covered gazebo. Generations of prom goers as well as wedding parties have had their photos taken there.

But how did Elizabeth Park become the public park it is today? Find out how Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of landscape architecture, a contested will and  a beloved wife are all part of the story.

Mary Donohue interviews Elizabeth Park’s Rosarian Stephen Scanniello about all things roses.  

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This episode was produced by Mary Donohue, Assistant Publisher of Connecticut Explored, the magazine of Connecticut history and engineered by Patrick O’Sullivan. 

Donohue has documented Connecticut’s architecture, built environment and popular culture for over 30 years. Contact her at