This is a special time of year here in Sarasota: the time all the roses in Mable Ringling’s rose garden at the Ringling Museum burst into bloom.
Ca d’Zan – John and Mabel Ringling’s mansion – is located at watersedge in the Sarasota Bay. Just north of the mansion is the Mabel Ringling Rose Garden. Spanning 27,225 square feet, the garden is Italian inspired with a circular design patterned after a wagon wheel.
This lush and fragrant rose garden was completed in 1913 before any development took place on the 66-acre estate. Mable Ringling had a passion for roses planting the garden and did much of the work herself which makes it the oldest rose garden under constant care in Florida. This is amazing since roses are not easy to grow in Sarasota due to the high temperatures which makes them susceptible to certain diseases.
The original Rose Garden fell into disrepair with the rest of the estate in the 1930s and 40s. The garden has been restored to its former glory, and today, the garden consists over 300 varieties and 1000 bushes including Tree Roses, Hybrid Teas, Floribundas, Grandifloras, miniature roses, shrubs, and Old Garden Roses. Each rose has its own name, scent and story.
While none of the current plantings are original the garden contains roses introduced between 1867 to the present.
The Mable Ringling Rose Garden may not be the most famous of the Sarasota’s many attractions, but it is definitely the most fragrant. Definitely worth the time to stop and smell the roses.
Admission to Ringling Museum cost $25 per person (adult). But you can visit the museum grounds for free at any time, and stop by and enjoy the rose garden at no charge.