Ellwanger Garden is a “living museum.” Originally the private garden of famed 19th-century horticulturist George Ellwanger, it was cultivated by the Ellwanger family from 1867 to 1982. It is a historic landscape with many plantings originally placed by Mr. Ellwanger and his family. In the garden, you experience the sights and scents that delighted the Ellwanger family for 115 years.
Ellwanger Garden is open each year during the Lilac Festival and in June for Peony Weekend. The garden can also be viewed by appointment for groups of 6 or more. Join the Friends of Ellwanger Garden volunteer group and enjoy the garden all season long at our Tuesday evening “weeding parties!” To schedule a group tour or volunteer at the garden, please contact Cindy Boyer, Director of Public Programs, at (585) 546-7029 x12 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Due to the narrow paths at the Garden, masks will be required and social distancing requested. This site is closed for regular visitation except for these special events and for private tours as described below.)
WHO WAS GEORGE ELLWANGER?
George Ellwanger was born in Germany in 1816. At the age of 14, he began a four-year apprenticeship at a horticultural firm in Stuttgart. In 1835 he came to America, settling in the newly incorporated City of Rochester. Mr. Ellwanger began a life-long partnership with Irish immigrant Patrick Barry when they formed the “Mt. Hope Botanical and Pomological Gardens” (Mt. Hope Nursery) in 1840. Located across the street from this garden, it grew rapidly from 8 acres to over 650 acres. By the 1870s it had become the largest and most respected horticultural firm in the country.
Mr. Ellwanger purchased the land from farmer John Hawks in 1867, then set out to create his private garden in the former pear orchard. The pear trees today reflect this earlier heritage, but were planted by the Ellwanger family. Ellwanger lived here until his death in 1906. The garden was maintained by his descendants, until bequeathed to the Landmark Society by granddaughter Helen Ellwanger in the early 1980s.
WHAT’S THE LILAC FESTIVAL CONNECTION?
The altruism of George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry changed the face of Rochester. Their gift of 20 choice acres prodded the city to form the Parks Department 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.
WHAT ABOUT THE FUTURE?
The Ellwanger Garden is maintained by The Landmark Society of Western New York, a not-for-profit organization. Donations made by visitors enables us to maintain this historic garden and open it to the public each season.
All photos taken by Gloria Marie Weyerts, 2005.