Cornwall Rose Garden

The rose is the national flower of the United States.  Bellingham originally had two rose gardens, Cornwall Rose Garden, which began in 1916, and Fairhaven Rose Garden, which began in 1917.  The latter was a test side for the All American Rose Selections displaying about 100 varieties.  The Fairhaven Rose Garden was removed in 1998.

All rose photographs on this page were taken at Cornwall Rose Garden by Park Steward, Zapote Gregory.

Visiting the Garden

Visit the Cornwall Rose Garden in late spring through mid-autumn to enjoy the beautiful fragrances and colors.  Please leave roses in the garden for everyone to enjoy.

The Cornwall Rose Garden is located at the corner of Illinois and Cornwall Streets.

Volunteering in the Garden

If you would like to volunteer in the Cornwall Rose Garden, please contact the Parks Volunteer Program at (360) 778-7105 or

Types of Roses in the Cornwall Rose Garden

There is no single system of classification for garden roses.  The American Rose Society places roses in three main groups:  Species (wild roses), Old Garden (classes in existence before 1867) and Modern Garden roses (classes developed after 1867).  Cornwall Rose Garden roses are Modern Garden roses, with the exception of the Rosa rugosa, which is a Species.

Rose Popularity

Why is the rose the most admired and exalted flower all over the world?  The rose is one of the oldest flowers.  The over 14,000 varieties grown worldwide illustrates the rose’s popularity.  This flower’s delicate perfume and diverse array of shapes and hues have captured human imagination throughout history.

  • Greeks and Romans used roses in food, drink and celebration
  • Chinese cultivated roses for medicinal purposes
  • Persians distilled roses for concentrated essence and rose water
  • Europeans during the Victorian era developed a rose language to communicate sentiment
  • During World War II, when the supply of citrus fruits was cut off, British chemists determined that rose hips had vitamin C.  In fact, through exhaustive testing, they discovered rose hips have a vitamin C content 400% greater than oranges.
  • American settlers planted roses as a reminder of home
  • History of Roses in America (PDF)
  • Amazing Rose Facts (PDF)

Resources on Roses

Gardening with Roses

To grow roses in our region, a useful resource of gardening tips and information in Whatcom County is available on the WSU Whatcom County Master Gardener website.  You can learn about climate, soils, and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for our locality.