The Bon Air Memorial Rose Garden, located at the corner of N. Lexington St. and Wilson Boulevard, was conceived by Nell Broyhill as a memorial for the many Arlingtonians who served and died in World War II.
In 1941, Ms. Broyhill assembled a group of women from Arlington churches, civic groups and associations and formed the Arlington Rose Garden Association, now called the Arlington Rose Foundation. After ten years of fundraising they finally realized their dream when the rose garden opened on the grounds of what was then Arlington Hospital (now Virginia Hospital Center) in 1951.
Ten years later the garden was moved to Bon Air Park; the transfer was completed in 1964. Today the garden is maintained by the Arlington’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Resources. It contains approximately 135 different rose varieties and 2,500 plants on about one acre.
In the center of the garden is the famous Peace rose and the Veterans’ Honor ™ rose. The Peace rose is a yellow blend Hybrid Tea developed by Frances Meilland in France in 1935. When World War II began Meilland sent the rose to friends in Germany, Italy and the U.S. in the hopes of ensuring its survival. Called the Peace rose in the U.S. to commemorate the end of the war, it was formally introduced on April 19, 1945, the day Berlin fell.
The Veterans’ Honor ™ rose, a dark red hybrid tea rose, was created by Jackson and Perkins in 1999 to commemorate America’s veterans.
The Foundation sponsors an annual rose competition for growers. This year’s district competition, which includes 70 competitive categories, will be at held at Merrifield Garden Center- Fair Oaks location on September 22nd from 1 to 6 pm and September 23rd from 11am to 4 pm. See www. arlingtonrose.org for more details as well as for information about the Arlington Rose Foundation’s activities and rose advice.
Plans are also underway for a Bon Air Memorial Rose garden celebration day on Saturday, October 6. Along with docent-led tours, rose rooting classes and poetry inspired by roses, the legacy and unique gift that Ms. Broyhill bestowed to Arlington will be on prime display.
What About You?
What are your favorite memories of Bon Air Rose Garden? Or other wonderful rose gardens in Arlington?