While you’re exploring the lilacs at Highland Park, escape the crowds and stroll over to The Ellwanger Garden at 625 Mt. Hope Avenue. Rochester’s “secret garden,” filled with colorful perennials, The Ellwanger Garden is maintained by The Landmark Society. It will be open to the public daily during Lilac Festival, May 10-19, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free, donations accepted.
Established in 1867 by famed Rochester nurseryman George Ellwanger, this living preservation site boasts eighty different kinds of perennials, including strong collections of peonies, roses, daylilies, hostas, irises and spring- and summer-flowering bulbs. It’s a unique flower-viewing experience. There are few other sites in Rochester – or New York – where you can see such a wide variety of flowers in a relatively compact garden, including rare and historic varieties. The historic landscape can also be viewed during Peony Weekend in June and by appointment.
The altruism of George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry changed the face of Rochester. Their gift of 20 choice acres inspired the city to form the Parks Commission in 1888. The 20 acres were the start of Highland Park, location of the world famous Lilac Festival each May.
They also gave vast numbers of trees and donated two specimens of every variety of plant in their nursery to the Park. They planted many of the majestic trees that grace our city today.
The success of the Rochester nursery trade, as exemplified by the Mt. Hope Nursery, earned Rochester the title “The Flower City.” The Lilac Festival maintains the heritage of that name, and Ellwanger Garden gives visitors the chance to experience the inspiration of that heritage.
The Ellwanger Garden is maintained by The Landmark Society of Western New York, a not-for-profit organization. Donations made by visitors help maintain this historic garden and open it to the public each season. Follow the signs for parking.