Rochester became a global center for flower and tree nurseries in the mid-1800s, fostering our identity as The Flower City. George Ellwanger from Germany and Patrick Barry from Ireland lead the way.
Their nursery catalog was issued in 1843, selling fruit trees, ornamentals and flowers, roses and green house plants across the globe. In 1888, they donated some of their land and trees to the City of Rochester to establish Highland Park (our first park), designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.
Here are a few places you can enjoy their contribution, and the continued work of other unique flower gardens and arboretums around Rochester.
In and Around Highland Park
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Also, take look at the arboretum on the University of Rochester campus!
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Around the Finger Lakes
Flower City Guides
Flower City Shows & Events
- Jan-Feb – Buffalo Botanical Gardens Lumagination
- February – Dutch Connection at Eastman Museum
- March – Annual Spring Orchid Show
- March – Orchid Show at Buffalo Botanical Gardens
- March – Plantasia
- March – Rochester Home & Garden Show
- March – Central New York Home & Garden Show
- March – Gardenscape
- April – Spring Wildflower & Orchid Show at Sonnenberg Gardens
- April – Spring Flower Exhibit Buffalo Botanical Gardens
- April-May – Lamberton Conservatory Holiday and Spring Shows
- May – Lilac Festival
- May – Buffalo Cherry Blossom Festival
- May – Tulip Festival of Holland, NY
- May – Daffodil Trail in Powder Mills Park
- May – Williamson Apple Blossom Festival
- May-June – Flower City Days at the Market
- July –Maplewood Rose Celebration
- July – Lavender Festival at Ol’Factory Lavender Farm
- Aug-Sep – Sunflowers
There are dozens of incredible nurseries in the Rochester areas to begin your own garden or arboretum. These are a few places you can visit for inspiration:
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Rochester’s 1st Christmas Tree
When doing research on a subject, I often stumble across fascinating information that warrants sharing!
George Ellwanger celebrated the establishment of the nursery by a fitting ceremony a week later when Vice-Chancellor Frederick Whittlesey affixed his seal to Ellwanger’s final citizenship papers, welcoming him officially as a new American.
A little over a year later Ellwanger joined with other Rochester associates from the Old Country in erecting the first Christmas tree in Rochester. Hundreds of older Americans gathered to watch the strange ceremony, in front of the little German Lutheran Church on Grove Street, at which the tree was lighted up with candles.
So pleased were Rochesterians with the ceremony that it became a feature of the Christmas period and helped to transform a purely religious day into a social and family holiday. See also, Rochester’s First Christmas Tree.