Roses in the Desert

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Roses in the desert at Mesa Community College Rose Garden, Arizona

Mesa Community College Rose Garden

You may not expect to find a rose garden in the middle of a desert, but at Mesa Community College in Mesa, Arizona, you can find nearly 9,000 rose bushes. The rose garden started in 1996 as a collaborative effort between Mesa Community College and Mesa-East Valley Rose Society.

Mesa Community College Rose Garden flower beds
There are 51 free-form rose beds in the five acre garden. The various varieties are labelled with signs in the ground. At 11 stations throughout the garden, a phone number and stop numbers are posted. If you call the telephone number and enter the stop number, you will hear information about the roses in that part of the garden. Information includes basics about rose categories, specific varieties in the garden and history of the garden

Let Freedom Ring and Veterans' Honor hybrid tea roses.
Let Freedom Ring and Veterans’ Honor hybrid tea roses. Hybrid roses are the most common. They are long-stemmed.
Field of Dreams and Chihuly floribunda rose
Field of Dreams and Chihuly floribunda roses. Floribunda roses grow in clusters and bloom profusely.
Lasting Peace and Wild Blue Yonder grandiflora roses
Lasting Peace and Wild Blue Yonder grandiflora roses. Grandiflora roses, a cross between hydrid tea and floribunda, are long-stemmed with medium-large flowers.
The yellowy-orange Strike it Rich rose, a grandiflora rose
Strike it Rich rose, a grandiflora rose
White and red roses in the Veterans' Garden at Mesa Community College Rose Garden
The Veterans Rose Garden plantings began in 2003 and completed in 2005. The garden honours “Past, Present, and Future” members of the American military.
Test bed for the All-American Rose Selections program
Test bed for the All-American Rose Selections program

A section of the garden is an official test area for the All American Rose Selections program. It is one of 26 test gardens nationwide. Miniatures are grown and evaluated monthly for how well they do in the climate. After two years, the plants are removed and destroyed. Eventually the best ones will be produced to go to market.

Orange and rose-coloured roses in one of the peace beds at Mesa Community College
One of the peace beds in Phase 4 of the Mesa Community College Rose Garden

Phase four of the garden includes beds symbolizing “Love, Friendship, Beauty and Peace” via the shapes of the beds. Peace beds are circular with the roses planted in a peace sign formation. Beauty is represented by a flower-shaped bed with a round centre and five petals. Love is a heart-shaped bed. Friendship is illustrated by two elongated beds representing arms enfolding each other.

Red Bob Hope rose
Bob Hope rose. Many roses are named for celebrities
Buttery yellow Julia Child rose
Julia Child rose. Julia Child said the colour reminded her of butter.

Mesa Community College is located at 1833 W. Southern Avenue in Mesa, Arizona. The rose garden is situated on the northern end of the campus along Southern Avenue. The garden is open to the public free of charge every day. According to the Rose Garden web site, climate is most beautiful for visiting in April, May, June, October, November and December.


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Note: This post is linked to Travel Mondays

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    1. Some varieties are ever-blooming, but not all. The Rose Garden website says that the roses are most beautiful in the months of April, May, and June, and again in October, November, and December. I was there in early April. I plan to visit again in November or December and see how it is different at that time.

  1. This is beautiful, thank you for the tour. It’s funny to me that roses can flourish in such diverse climates as Arizona and Oregon!

  2. Amazing that such beautiful flowers can grow in the desert – they’re hardier than we think they are! Beautiful photos 🙂

    1. I think some are hardier than others and breeders keep working on strong strains. These gardens are watered, which solves one of the issues with the desert.

  3. My favorite rose is the Strike It Rich Grandiflora. I absolutely love your image of it. It has been a very long time, but I have actually been to that rose garden and it’s spectacular in the spring. I am a bit jealous, because I would love to see again in full bloom.

  4. Beautiful. Love all the different colors. I walk by rose bushes everyday on the way to work, and they are just beginning to bloom now. Great way to start the day!

  5. I love roses, especially the fragrant ones. All the pictures are gorgeous but I really like the very last one. It looks like they have two tiers of roses with the front ones being shorter than the back. I’m an armchair traveler, I let other people do the traveling, take the pictures and do the write-up, then I sit back and enjoy. Thanks so much.

  6. Roses are beautiful and a delight for all our senses. Your photos capture their allure very well, Donna.

  7. Awwww, I wish I can teleport this garden to my compound. Its beautiful. Roses are irresistible. No wonder its expensive down here.

  8. Great pictures of Roses in the desert, Donna and interesting info on Mesa. I often associate roses with vulnerability to wind. Are these varieties specially resistant or is it not as windy as I assume ?

    1. The area around Phoenix has windy periods, but it isn’t windy all the time. I visited the garden in April and April can be breezy, but then again so is April in my Manitoba home. The area may get a strong windstorm or two or three throughout the year. I don’t know how that affects the gardens. The gardens are more sheltered than some wide open spaces.

  9. Donna, I went to Mesa Community College for a semester. I live in Tempe, Arizona now. Are you from AZ? I love the pictures you took. I need to drive down and take a look again. I love Julia Child and that a rose is named after her! =)

    Sincerely, Crystal Ross

  10. What beautiful roses and photos of the garden. You are right. I would not expect to see a garden like this in the desert. I think my favorite rose garden is the rose test garden in Portland, Oregon. Thank you for your post.

  11. I was surprised to know that such beautiful flowers can grow in desert. Growing 9000 rose bushes at Mesa Community College must have taken a lot of time and effort but it gives pleasure to many now.
    I am living in Saudi Arabia but still I have not seen roses , but come across many other flowers.
    But if I talk about Kashmir then specifically talking about Rawalakot almost every home have roses. Every where you can see variety of rose.

    It was really nice to see these pictures and it took me back to my childhood when I was living in Rawalakot and was enjoying fragrance of roses , I use to pluck many everyday but now I feel sad and miss them.