Stop to Smell the Roses at Prabhupada's Palace
Posted August 12, 2010
Public gardens are a national treasure, just like museums, libraries and opera houses. Even amongst public gardens, however, rose gardens hold a special preeminence. Roses have attracted more attention from painters, poets and romantics than any other flower. Is it any wonder that roses are the flower of choice for joyous occasions such as anniversaries, birthdays, graduations and weddings?
The All-America Rose Selections (AARS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the vitality, strength and beauty of garden roses. The AARS runs the world's most challenging horticultural testing program, monitoring plant performance according to twelve different criteria including fragrance, novelty, disease resistance, and color throughout the bloom cycle. The AARS then identifies plants that will grow beyond expectations with little maintenance, ensuring the plants' suitability for home gardens. These exceptional roses then receive the AARS Seal of Approval, and are showcased in AARS-accredited gardens across North America.
"The fact that the Palace of Gold Rose Garden in New Vrindaban has been AARS-accredited since 1987 is one of the best-kept secrets in the Ohio Valley," says Wheeling, West Virginia native Betty Hickey, the Palace of Gold rosarian since 1985. "The standards for AARS accreditation are very high. There is a two-year probationary period before being accepted, and annual surprise inspections after acceptance. There are only around 130 accredited gardens in North America."
The benefits of accreditation are well worth the effort, says Hickey. Each year, the Palace of Gold Rose Garden receives, free of charge, five plants of each winning variety. The Palace receives AARS winners one full year before they are available through catalogues and nurseries. Thus, home gardeners can visit the Palace Rose Garden to see how selected varieties perform at different points during the season, and determine whether the variety will fit into their home garden.
The Palace is showcasing two AARS winners that will be available next spring. "Dick Clark" is a grandiflora with black-red buds. This exquisite beauty spirals open to display vibrant cherry-pink petals tinged with a cream-colored edge. "Walking on Sunshine" is a floribunda, boasting tight clusters of bright yellow buds which burst open with an anise aroma. All the rose varieties in the Palace Rose Garden, including "Dick Clark" and "Walking on Sunshine," are well-marked for easy identification.
Right now is the perfect time to visit the Palace Rose Garden, whether you are a home gardener or simply a lover of roses. The garden will be in its second bloom for approximately one week.
Most rose gardens bloom only once, in June. The Palace Rose Garden is exceptional in that it has three blooms, a testament to both the exceptional quality of the rose varieties and to Hickey's expertise with roses. The third bloom will be during the end of September. "The September bloom is especially nice," confided Hickey. "There are fewer flowers, but each flower is larger. Also, with the cooler weather, the blooms will last longer, and the color will not fade."
The Palace boasts over 100 different varieties of roses. Currently, close to half of the 850 rose plants at the Palace of Gold are AARS winners, ensuring the exceptional overall beauty of the garden.
"The AARS requires that I maintain the overall appearance of the rose garden, so I usually do not pick flowers from the garden," said Hickey. "But I make exceptions for special occasions. I pick flowers for Prabhupada's birthday, and I pick flowers for the day on which Prabhupada departed from this world." On September 2, 2010, Hare Krishna devotees around the world will commemorate the Appearance Day of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder-Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. There will be a special celebration at the Palace of Gold.
The Palace of Gold was originally intended to be a home for Prabhupada. Prabhupada, however, left this world in November 1977, just a few months before the completion of the Palace. The Palace was then converted into Prabhupada's mausoleum. The Palace of Gold Rose Garden was created in 1985 by Hare Krishna devotees. Originally, the garden was intended to be a source of flowers for the temple Deities of Lord Krishna. After receiving AARS accreditation in 1987, however, it was turned into a show garden in order to comply with AARS's strict guidelines.
In addition to the rose garden, there are numerous annual gardens on the Palace of Gold terraces and patios. "These annual gardens are exceptional in their own right," says Hickey. "On the back patio alone, there are three different varieties of canna lilies; blue salvia, which is one of the most popular salvias; a reddish-burgundy celosia; and many others. I encourage everyone to visit these annual gardens."
Prabhupada's Palace of Gold is located south of Moundsville at Wheeling, West Virginia, off Route 250. For more information, contact (304) 843-1812 or mail@NewVrindaban.com.