Throughout history no flower has been so loved or celebrated as the rose. Rosaceae is older than the human hands that first cared for it, drew pictures of it, and sang its praises in music. Forty million years ago, a rose left its imprint on a slate deposit at the Florissant Fossil Beds in Colorado. Today, Fairmount Cemetery is home to one of the largest known collections of “Old Garden Roses” in North America. Some have been identified such as Ghislaine de Féligonde, still others, known as “Mystery Roses”, have been assigned study names. A study name is always listed in quotation marks and usually includes the name on the monument closest to the rose along with the most predominate characteristics such as “Emmons Pink Damask”.
Richard H Shay and his wife Virginia donated the White Gazebo that graces the Heritage Rose Garden on the grounds of the cemetery.
We know that Reinhardt Schuetze, the landscape architect that designed Fairmount, planted “380 roses-all kinds” according to the original nursery order from 1891. But we can only speculate as to how so many other roses found their way here. The settlers were known to bring cuttings of their favorite plants, stuck into potatoes to protect and keep them moist during the long trip across the Great Plains. Maybe they brought them to the cemetery in memory of their loved ones.
Since so many of our roses are unique to Fairmount they must be preserved or will be lost forever. As part of the Fairmount Arboretum Preservation and Education Project, the Fairmount Heritage Foundation is currently developing a preservation plan for the roses; efforts include: a full survey of the roses including labeling, propagation and planting plan as well as expansion of the current demonstration garden. The Fairmount Arboretum is open to the public from sunrise to sunset every day of the year; there are roses throughout the cemetery and in our Heritage Rose Garden located in Block 85 . Fairmount Map