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I had mixed expectations for our visit to a garden with the moniker, “Raleigh Municipal Rose Garden”. Would the roses be parallel parked beside meters? Might other visitors honk and make rude gestures if I lingered too long beside a favorite blossom? We needed a date that excluded Lowes, Home Depot, and DIY projects so, Raleigh Municipal Rose Garden, here we come!

The Raleigh Municipal Rose Garden, hereafter referred to as the Rose Garden, sits behind the Raleigh Little Theater. Their site offers excellent directions for travelers from all points of the compass. A quick history of the Rose Garden can be found in this excellent park review by local TV station WRAL.

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We found the Rose Garden, but I should have done my homework to determine an acceptable parking space. The campus of North Carolina State University resides a couple of blocks south and cash-starved students will park anywhere. To prevent the theater lots from filling up with knowledge-seeking commuters, the parking slots are marked “Permit Required” and violators might be ticketed or towed. Pogue Street encircles the Rose Garden and on-street parking is legal unless prohibited. I parked my car, the only one in the lot, behind the box office and hoped for the best.

We’ve lived in Raleigh for years and have never attended a movie or concert in the amphitheater. The theater’s website lists events, and I think I see another date in our future. With the exception of a maintenance worker the amphitheater was empty, and I considered taking the stage for an impromptu performance but did not want to push the envelope. I was already illegally parked.

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As we exited the amphitheater we had our first view of the garden. There’s just something magnetic about a path lined with plants that pulls a garden-minded soul in for a closer look.

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The roses, hundreds of them, are tended by volunteers who are assigned one, two, or more beds depending on their abilities and schedule. We had a quick chat with a gentleman who oversees four beds as he deadheaded and pulled the encroaching bentgrass out of his territory.

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My favorite blooms.

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Well, until I saw these.

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No, really, this is the winner. Seriously, though, with more than 60 varieties how does one pick a favorite?

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Go ahead and admit it. You’d love to hug this tree.

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A semi-circular arbor occupies one end of the Rose Garden, and I could not resist the urge to follow the grassy road.

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The formal pond adds a focal point to the garden. I expected to find gold fish or koi swimming on mosquito extermination patrol but the pond seemed to be home for plants only. A pair of dragonflies performed aerial acrobatics for our benefit.

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Here’s another view of the Rose Garden. Note the floral display crests and falls during the seasons giving solid justification for multiple visits. I must return soon, after the temperature and humidity drop well below ninety.

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A proper garden journey changes the pilgrim. Sit and contemplate the quiet. Leave life’s stress behind for a while. Marvel over the wondrous colors. Give thanks for the health and strength to enjoy the hard work of the gardening hands that created this place. Choose an untraveled path and explore.

Thanks to Shawn Rae Nichols for her photography.

And thanks to the host of volunteers who maintain the Raleigh Municipal Rose Garden.