The Rose Garden at Essex County Brookdale Park was established in June 1959 through a joint effort of the New Jersey Rose Society and the Essex County Parks Department. The initial collection started with 650 rose bushes including 80 different varieties. Care and restoration of the Brookdale Rose Garden was taken over in 1997, as a community project by the newly formed Essex County Master Gardeners (ECMG), under the leadership of Jonathan Forsell until his death and was then revived again in 2003, under the leadership of Bob Kroeckel.
The garden continues to thrive today and has grown to 15,000 square feet divided up into 29 separate beds of hybrid tea, floribunda, shrub, hybrid musk, polyanthas, rugosas and antique roses. It includes 1,500 bushes of almost 100 varieties. Roses have been selected for their disease resistance, color, fragrance and blooms throughout the growing season.
Care and Maintenance
ECMG and other community volunteers meet every Thursday morning from mid-March thru November to keep the the Rose Garden looking its best. Drastic pruning, fertilizing, herbicide application and weeding are performed in early spring while throughout the summer, mulching, watering and weeding takes place around the beds. A balanced rose fertilizer is used twice a season and granular Epsom salt is applied to each rosebush several times a season. Granulated lime is judiciously applied every autumn to counteract the high soil pH caused by air pollution. All weeding is done mechanically rather than with the use of herbicides and there is no use of fungicide at all.