The Marion Panaretos Rose Garden

Many people do not realize that the rose garden in San Mateo’s Central Park was developed and is maintained by the San Mateo Arboretum Society.  The rose garden was one of the visions of our founder, Marion S. Panaretos, and is  one of our contributions to Central Park and the San Mateo community.  The original rose garden, which remains today, is located within the eight formal beds surrounded by boxwood hedges, to the south of the gazebo.  The rose bushes were donated to us by the Jackson Perkins Company, one of the foremost names in the world of roses.  The roses Brandy and Precious Platinum remain as two of the original plantings.

Planters of the original garden included Jack and Norma Bennett.  Norma continues to conduct an annual pruning workshop each January, when the community is invited to learn and practice the proper pruning of roses.  With just over 100 rose bushes, everyone has the opportunity to practice on at least one plant.   Norma Bennett also produces our quarterly newsletter, which includes timely articles on the subject of rose care.   Several years after the planting of the original rose garden, the gazebo was added.  It now forms the center of the rose garden and a brass plaque in the brick floor of the gazebo informs us that the garden is named to honor Marion.


After the addition of the gazebo, the surrounding undeveloped land became incorporated into the rose garden, bringing it to the size which it is today.  The rose garden also serves as a testing ground to help us learn which varieties do well within our area.  Scented roses are always sought after in any rose garden.  Some of our most fragrant roses include:  Memorial Day, Barbra Streisand, and Golden Zest.  For those seeking something different, there are the dusty roses, whose colors are muddled.  These include Hot Cocoa, Honey Dijon and Smokey.  The rose About Face has petals which are a different color on the top than they are on the underside.  And Bronze Star opens as a rich yellowish-orange bud which becomes paler in color as the flower matures.  A visit to the rose garden can provide welcome moments of peace. There are several benches which offer a place to rest, and the play of sunlight in the early morning and early evening add to the magic that is always in the air.