Centennial Rose Garden

About the Garden

The Centennial Rose Garden, on the grounds of the Schmidt House in Tumwater, WA, is arguably the most significant rose garden between Tacoma and Portland. It has a rich history, having been dedicated in June 1989 as a Washington Centennial project by the Olympia Rose Society. The garden is co-sponsored by the Centennial Garden Foundation and the Olympia-Tumwater Foundation, which owns and manages the Schmidt House and adjacent Tumwater Falls Park – both important historic sites in the Olympia-Tumwater area.

The garden, roughly 90 by 30 feet in size, contains a collection of more than 230 bushes of some 63 varieties of modern and heritage roses. Represented here are some of the finest examples of Hybrid Tea, Grandiflora and Floribunda roses as well as Shrubs, Polyanthas, Miniatures, and Heritage roses. All have been meticulously and lovingly cared for during the past quarter-century by volunteers from the Olympia Rose Society.

As you visit the garden, note that all varieties are named with permanent markers located throughout the garden beds. Heritage rose markers also indicate the date on which they were introduced into commerce.

The Garden is also used by the Olympia Rose Society as a teaching and outreach resource, where frequent activities and events are organized for interested members of the community

Centennial Rose Garden History

For several decades the Olympia Rose Society (ORS) maintained a rose garden on the grounds of the Community Center on 4th Avenue in Olympia. In 1986 the ORS was notified that a new Community Center was to be built in downtown Olympia and the old center was to be closed and demolished. An exhaustive local search was immediately undertaken to locate a suitable new site to which the rose garden could be moved.

This effort resulted in an agreement with the Olympia Tumwater Foundation enabling the garden to be moved to a location immediately adjacent to the Schmidt House on the site of an abandoned tennis court.

Image courtesy of the State Library of NSW - Rose Garden, Centennial Park 1914

Concurrently, the State of Washington was planning for the upcoming Centennial Celebration to be staged during 1989. Part of the planning involved offering grants to community organizations through the various counties to undertake projects as part of this celebration. Taking advantage of this opportunity, the ORS applied for such a grant to move the garden to the Schmidt House site as a centennial project. It was accepted by “Thurston County Centennial ‘89” with the condition that garden contain a collection of Heritage roses – rose varieties that would have been popular in the Olympia-Tumwater area at the time of statehood 100 years ago.

The garden, along with a collection of both modern and Heritage roses, was constructed at the Schmidt House site during 1987-88 and was dedicated in June of 1989. The dedication was held in conjunction with the annual Meeting of the Pacific Northwest District of the American Rose Society, which was hosted by the ORS on June 23, 1989. With Washington’s first lady, Jean Gardner, as the featured speaker the event was attended by more than 250 people.

Today, the Centennial Rose Garden remains as one of the very few Washington Centennial Celebration projects still in existence.

Activites and Rose Collections

The Centennial Rose Garden hosts many activities throughout the year. Some of these are captured below in the Activities section. Some outstanding examples of the Heritage, as well as the Modern, rose collections on display at the Centennial Rose Garden are also shown below. Please click on the images below to see additional photos.


Weekly summer work parties at the Centennial Rose Garden keep the bushes tidy.

Heritage Rose Collection

Marchesa Boccella, 1842, Hybrid Perpetual, bred by Jean Desprez (France).

Modern Rose Collection

Andrea Stelzer, 1992, Hybrid Tea, bred by W. Kordes & Sons (Germany).

Centennial Rose Garden Hours

The Centennial Rose Garden, which is adjacent to the Schmidt House, is open to the public daily from 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM during the flowering season (late-April through October) and is completely ADA accessible. Visitors are asked to enter the garden through the gate adjacent to the garden shed on the north side of the garden and to close the gate when leaving. This will help us keep marauding deer out of the garden. The gate is unlocked daily by security personnel.

Admission is free but donations are always welcome – a donation box can be found near the arbor at the south end of the garden. Such donations are used strictly for maintenance and improvement of the Centennial Rose Garden. 

Enjoy your visit!