I like rose gardens. Last Friday I spent my lunch sitting in the Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden in Balboa Park embracing the sun and testing my will power at sitting still as bees enjoyed those roses closest to me. I don’t particularly like roses, especially in full bloom, but I love rose gardens. I love the repetition, funny names, bright colors, maze-like arrangements, perfumed breezes, and the opportunities for creative learning experiences.
A couple of years ago, I developed a series of activities for family engagement in rose gardens. These activities, along with activities for many of the other gardens and museums of Balboa Park, are part of the Balboa Park Family Activity Guide* – see additional details below. I have updated these original activities and included them here. Enjoy!
1. There are 35 types of roses. For simplicity and brevity, I have chosen five that I feel are the easiest to recognize and most common. Review the types listed below and try to find one of each at your local rose garden. Record the names and draw an example in a field notebook or get a photograph of each to add to your field notebook. This can be done with teams looking for one of each or individually with each person looking for a different variety (to be collected and combined into one notebook).
- hybrid teas consist of one large bloom on a long stem used for cut flowers
- floribundas or “many flowering” are low-growing and produce clusters of blooms
- grandifloras or “large flowering” are tall-growing with a single bloom or cluster
- ramblers or climbing roses have arching branches for covering walls or fences
- miniatures have much smaller blooms and stems which are perfect for hanging baskets
2. Flowers are great for macro photography practice. Grab your camera for a photo scavenger hunt. Look for as many colors of roses as you can find or focus on the shapes you can find of a single color.
3. The names of the roses can be entertaining for both kids and adults. Have fun reading their unique names and brainstorming how they came to be. This makes for great story starters. Can you find a rose name for each letter of the alphabet?
4. Look for roses with characteristics listed below. Can you think of any other clues?
- a type of food in its name
- the longest name
- a human name
- an insect on it
- the silliest name
- two or more roses with a common word in the name
- an adjective in the name
*The Balboa Park Family Activity Guide was created by the Informal Curriculum Experiences (ICE) committee made up of Balboa Park educators. This free guide is a collection of hands-on activities for families to complete throughout the Park and can be picked up at the Visitors Center.