On June 1, the Friends of Wilmington Parks will host its 10th annual Jasper Crane Rose Garden Party, where you can see hundreds of roses at peak bloom. Party attendees include local leaders in business, politics, the arts, community organizations and philanthropy, as well as parks and garden lovers. Proceeds from the event fund family-friendly programming in Wilmington State Parks: Alapocas Run State Park, Brandywine Park, Kentmere Parkway, H. Fletcher Brown Park and Rockford Park.
“Our Rose Garden Party is one of the most beautiful in Wilmington and Brandywine Valley,” says Brenda Joy Good, executive director of Friends of Wilmington Parks. “With our roses in peak bloom, it’s a great time to gather with Wilmington’s most engaged citizens and parks-and-garden enthusiasts of all ages for an entertaining night. This year we reached out to build a team of volunteers to help prepare the rose beds, manicure the garden, and learn how to prune roses from Bruce Monroe, Delaware’s only master rosarian. Our garden looks the best it has in years, and we’re already seeing our first roses.”
Now a family event, the party includes activities and food for children and great food, live music, drinks and a silent auction for adults. Two antique horse carriages provide a once-a-year opportunity of a scenic carriage ride through Brandywine Park. Enjoy hors d’oeuvres by Penn Bistro, a team of the area’s youngest trained chefs from the innovative culinary program of William Penn High School.
In the 1930s, when Wilmington park commissioners wanted a rose garden in Brandywine Park, they sought the assistance of J. Horace McFarland, founder and first president of the American Rose Society. Laid out in 1933, the garden was a Public Works Administration project. Jasper Crane, a DuPont company director, donated the first 670 plants of 58 varieties, selecting plants that he had cultivated in his Westover Hills home’s garden. In the 1940s and 1950s, the Jasper Crane Rose Garden earned a reputation as one of the top public rose gardens in America. In 1952, The Garden Club of America honored Crane for achievement in the field of rose culture. In 2001, prompted by a gift from Jasper Crane’s descendants, the Friends of Wilmington Parks restored the Jasper Crane Rose Garden with 450 replacement plants. That same year, nationally recognized rose hybridizer J. Benjamin Williams donated the patented Jasper Crane rose. In 2015–2016, the Friends undertook another major renovation of the garden, adding more than 200 new rose bushes donated by Star Roses and Plants, in demonstration of their support for public gardens. For 25 years, Friends of Wilmington Parks has worked with the Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation and the City of Wilmington to assist in the preservation, maintenance and programming of the Wilmington State Parks. Last year the Friends completed the restoration of the Sugar Bowl Pavilion at the foot of the Washington Street Bridge in Brandywine Park. The first Sugar Bowl Summer Concert Series, a seven-week program of live music and food trucks, will begin in July.
Tickets for the garden party are available at www.friendsofwilmingtonparks.org.