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Even though the school children of New York were asked to vote for state flower as early as 1890, for some reason the state legislature never officially proclaimed a winner until 1955. The Rose has historically been one of the most highly cultivated flowers with more than 150 species and 20,000 hybrids in existence. The New York legislature wisely chose not to play favorites and in their 1955 proclamation included Roses “in any color or combination of colors common to it.”
Roses grow well throughout the U.S., and can be found all across New York. The Hudson Valley region is the most vibrant producer of the flower. While Rose gardens have been a staple of parks and private estates in Europe for centuries, the rose gardens of the Hudson Valley seem to have taken the art form to new level. The Hudson flows from upstate New York, past historic sites such as Sleepy Hollow and Dobb’s Ferry, and on past Yonkers to New York City, feeding lush flower gardens all along the way.
Hudson Valley floral and tourist associations arrange tours and distribute maps of the most famous Rose gardens, many on former estates of the fabulously wealthy now opened to the public.
Among them are:
Kykuit, home to four generations of the Rockefeller dynasty, boasts magnificent views and a beaux-arts landscape and includes a formal rose garden.
The Vanderbilt Mansion, one of the Hudson Valley’s greatest estates, has a rose garden with more than 1,200 plants.
Lyndhurst, a historic 19th-century Gothic Revival estate, includes a conservatory greenhouse built in 1870 and a rose garden that has 100 varieties of roses designed in a circular pattern.
Boscobel is an elegant, neo-classical mansion sited high above the Hudson River, has a formal rose garden with a central fountain and more than 140 varieties of roses and 600 other plants.
While Rose plants do grow wild in New York, we’re reasonably certain that the schoolchildren and state legislature had the variety common in bouquets and centerpieces in mind when they proclaimed the Rose as the New York state flower.
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Top image courtesy of Tindy.