Formerly only open on Mother’s Day, this secret sea of blooms in Charlotte is now open to the public nearly every day of the year.
The McGill Rose Garden began as a personal project. The land was bought in 1950 by Henry and Helen McGill, who were prominent philanthropists. Helen promptly went about building a sprawling garden here. At the time, the area was industrial—even today, the park still has a coal car parked in the corner.
Helen installed over 500 rose bushes, transforming the lot into a scented oasis. In 1962, the McGills began opening their park to the public on Mother’s Day, which quickly became a favorite Charlotte-area tradition.
The city purchased the property in 1976 and the McGill Rose Garden now operates as a city park with an independent board. Today, the park is over an acre large and covered in more than 1,000 rose bushes, as well as fountains, sculptures, and benches placed along its winding paths. It has been named an All-America Rose Selections public garden, making it one of the highest-quality such gardens in the United States.
Until his death in 2007, visitors were likely to run into Mr. McGill among the petals and thorns. Mrs. McGill died in 1985 and her widower took on the maintenance of her beloved park with total commitment. He would work in this garden every day until he was 99. In his last years, he would make a point of coming at least weekly, before passing at age 103.
Know Before You Go
The park charges no admission fee. Roses bloom mid-April through November, with May and June being the best months to visit.