Fragrant flowers blooming in the Essex County Brookdale Park Rose Garden have been enjoyed by passersby every summer for the last 50 years.
The North Jersey Public Rose Garden was formally opened and dedicated in June of 1959. At that time, there were 750 rose bushes planted at the flagpole in Essex County Brookdale Park, on the borderline of Montclair, Bloomfield, and Glen Ridge. It was the first and only garden in the state designed to instruct the public in plant adaptability to particular areas. The site was jointly sponsored by the North Jersey Rose Society and the Essex County Park Commission.
The Master Gardeners of Essex County have been caring for the Rose Garden since 1997 and formed a Rose Garden Committee in 2003 to aid in restoring the garden back to its original elegance.
Brookdale Park is located in what once was a gathering place for the Lenni Lenape Indians. During the 17th Century, Dutch settlers transformed the area, then called Stonehouse Plains, into farming and grazing land. In the 1800s, when the area got its own post office near the Third River, the neighborhood came to be known as Brookdale.
In 1928, land purchases began and the basic work was completed by 1930. With the onset of the Depression, construction schedules slowed as money was needed elsewhere. As unemployment spread, agencies such as the federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) were organized and subsequently provided most of the funding and labor needed to construct the park. Brookdale Park was completed in 1937.
Brookdale Park, designed by the renowned Olmsted Brothers firm, which also created New York’s Central Park, is one of Essex County’s largest parks. With 78 acres in Bloomfield and 43 acres in Montclair, Brookdale is a serene oasis in an otherwise densely populated area.
A rose garden featuring more than 100 species of roses, trails for walking and running, lush groves and extensive lawns, playgrounds, sports fields, track facilities, tennis courts, an archery range and stadium grandstand are some of the attractions that make Brookdale Park a magnet for nature lovers, families, and physical fitness enthusiasts for miles around.
Essex County Brookdale Park's 121.4 acres spans both Bloomfield and Montclair Townships. Entrances can be found at Watchung Avenue, Bellevue Avenue, and Grove Street. When visiting the Rose Garden, please use the Grove Street entrance.
DIRECTIONS - from the Garden State Parkway, take Exit 151 and turn onto Watchung Avenue towards Montclair; make a right turn onto Grove Street and the Park is on the right.
Founded in the summer of 2009, Brookdale Friends is a volunteer organization focusing on horticultural projects in Brookdale Park, Essex County, NJ. Current programs include: Volunteer Mornings, the Brookdale Park Dogwood Collection, the Brookdale Park Children’s Garden and Give the Gift of Evergreen.