Highland Park in May

Highland Park

Highland Park draws international crowds numbering in the thousands during Rochester’s week-long Lilac Festival in May, though the lilacs are not the only sights to see! Frederick Law Olmsted designed this park in 1888, along with Genesee Valley, Seneca, and Maplewood, to be enjoyed year-round. Every pathway, every tree, every vista and every relationship between the land and water is intentional.

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Overview of the
Highland Park area

Walking the paved paths weaves you up, down, and through a diverse collection of flowers, flowering bushes and trees, taking you from the Pansy Bed to the Poet’s Garden, Tulip Garden, Lamberton Conservatory and the reservoir. Crossing South Ave. you can wander toward the stage at Highland Bowl (outdoor movies and Shakespeare in the summer) and the well-hidden Warner Castle Sunken Garden. Venturing across Mount Hope Blvd. you’ll discover the beautiful Mount Hope Cemetery in which you can spend hours discovering where the various pathways lead.

Lilac Festival: 18 Things to Do Nearby

Highland Park draws crowds numbering in the thousands during Rochester’s week-long Lilac Festival in May, though the lilacs are not the only sights to see!

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The Lilacs

Highland Park Lilacs
The Rochester Strain of Lilac can have 8-12 radials. Older varieties have only 4.
Highland Park Lilacs Pink
Events around Rochester - Lilac Festival Monroe County Highland Park
Highland Park Lilacs in Rochester, NY

The Flower City: Exploring Rochester’s Extraordinary Flowers and Trees

Rochester became a global center for flower and tree nurseries in the mid-1800s, fostering our identity as The Flower City.

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Magnolia Collection

5 Beautiful Gardens Near Rochester

If you haven’t already, start with a visit to these five beautiful gardens near Rochester, many are free or require only a small donation or admission fee.

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Pansy Bed

Wandering among the trees and flowering bushes in lower Highland Park

Japanese Maple Collection

Highland Park Maple Collection
Japanese Maple Collection
Highland Park walkway Japanese Maples
Highland Park November Japanese Maples
Japanese Maple collection

Upper Highland Park

Highland Park Peonies
Peonies in Late May
Highland Park Rochester
Highland Park in April

The Poet’s Garden

The Rhododendrons & Azaleas

All azaleas are Rhododendrons (note the capital R), but not all Rhododendrons are azaleas. And they’re all intoxicating!

The Pinetum

The Pinetum contains 300 species and varieties of conifers from all over the world.

Highland Park Pinetum
Highland Park guided walking tours

The Tulip Bed

Highland Park tulips
Highland Park Zinnia Monarch Butterfly
The Tulips Beds are replanted for Summer

The Reservoir

Highland Park Reservoir
Highland Park Reservoir
Highland Park Gate House February

Lamberton Conservatory

The Lamberton Conservatory is open year-round. In addition to its tropical forest display, desert plants, economic plants and house plants, the Conservatory features seasonal floral displays. The exhibits are changed 5 times throughout the year, so that there is always something new to be seen. The Conservatory is open daily from 10-4 p.m. Admission fees are $3.00 for adults, and $2.00 for youth (6-18) and seniors (62 and over). There is no fee for children ages 0 to 5 years. Seasonal passes are available for $10 individual, $30 family, and $50 companies and institutions.

Public Gardens Lamberton Conservatory Duck
Lamberton Conservatory
Lamberton Conservatory spring
Lamberton Conservatory
Lamberton Conservatory

Warner Castle Sunken Garden

Warner Castle Sunken Garden looking down
Warner Castle

Highland Bowl

Highland Bowl
Highland Bowl Shakespeare
Shakespeare in Highland Bowl

Memorials in Highland Park

Greater Rochester Vietnam Veteran's Memorial
Greater Rochester Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial
Rochester Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Highland Park Crime Victims Memorial
Crime Victims Memorial
AIDS Remembrance Walk – The Guardian

Newly constructed play-space

A few of my favorite
benches in Highland Park

Highland Park Benches
Highland Park Benches
Highland Park Benches
Highland Park Benches
Highland Park

More information about Highland Park

Plant Collections

What’s in Bloom? (from the Highland Park Conservancy website)

February and March

  • Witchhazels – south of the Overlook
  • Helleborus foetidus – Stinking Hellobore
  • Helleborus niger – Christmas Rose
  • Galanthus – Snow Drops
  • Chionodoxa – Glory of the Snow
  • Scilla Siberica – Squill
  • Crocus
  • Primula – cowslip
  • Vinca minor – Periwinkle
  • Sanguinaria canadensis – Bloodroot
  • Narcissus – Poets’
  • Anemone blanda – Windflower
  • Hepatica acutiloba
  • Podophyllum peltatum – May Apple
  • Brunnera
  • Epimedium – Bishop’s Hat
  • Helleborus orientalis – Lenten Rose
  • Trillium grandiflorum
  • Mertensia virginicus – Virginia Bluebell
  • Asarum europium – European Ginger
  • Arisaema triphyllum – Jack in the Pulpit
  • Lathyrus vernus – Spring Vetchling
  • Tulipa – Tulip
  • Viola – Violet
  • Polygonatum biflorum – Solomon’s Seal
Highland Park in April
Highland Park in April
Siberian Squil
Highland Park Witchhazel

Early April

  • Magnolias – southwest of the Reservoir


  • Forsythias and daffodils – south of the Overlook
Highland Park Forsythia
Highland Park Daffodils

Early May

  • Flowering pears – along South Goodman between Highland and Elmwood
  • Tulips – corner of South Avenue and Reservoir Drive
Highland Park Tulips


  • Crabapples – along South Goodman between Highland and Elmwood
  • Flowering Dogwood – south of the Overlook
  • Muscari – Grape Hyacinth
  • Convallaria majalis – Lily of the Valley
  • Doronicum – Leopard’s Bane
  • Allium
  • Hyacinthoides hispanica – wood hyacinth
Highland Park Flowering Dogwood
Flowering Dogwood

Late May

  • Azaleas – southeast of the Overlook
  • Horse chestnuts – west of the Reservoir
  • Lilacs – along Highland Avenue
  • Pansy Bed – on Highland Avenue
  • Spirea – southeast of the Reservoir
  • Tree peonies – west of the horse chestnuts
  • Wisteria – southeast of the Reservoir

Early June

  • Rhododendron – southeast of the Overlook
  • Iris – near the magnolias
  • Hesperis matronalis – Dame’s Rocket
  • Sweet Woodruff
  • Herb Robert
  • Virginia Waterleaf
  • Day Lily
  • Wild Columbine
  • Erythronium – Dogtooth Violet
  • Smokebush
Highland Park June Smokebush


  • Mock oranges – southeast of the Reservoir;
  • Weigelas


  • Hydrangeas – southeast of the Reservoir;
  • Hardy Geranium/Crane’s Bill
  • Thalictrum – Wild Meadowrue
  • Cimicifuga
  • Anemone syvestris


  • Annual bedding plants and Shrub Althea
  • Hosta
  • Wood Aster
  • Gooseneck Loosestrife
  • Golden Rain Tree
Highland Park August Golden Rain Tree
Highland Park August Zinnia Monarch Butterfly

Late September or Early October

  • Look for the Katsura Tree to turn gold, then drop its leaves all at once. This is probably the largest specimen in the state, located near the Pansy bed.
Highland Park November Katsura Tree
Katsura Tree above Pansy Bed in November 2018


  • Witchhazels – south of the Overlook
  • Decaisnea fargesii shrubs –  This plant’s ripened bluish-colored and finger-shaped fruit provides for its commonly known name–dead man’s fingers. The shrub is native to western China and other western Asia countries such as Nepal, Bhutan, and northeastern parts of India.
Dead Man’s Fingers


Highland Park November yellow leaves
Valley below Reservoir Drive
Highland Park November leaves on the ground
Valley below Reservoir Drive
Highland Park November yellow
Valley below Reservoir Drive
Highland Park November Japanese Maples
Japanese Maple collection

Lamberton Conservatory

Tropical plants need tropical temperatures, so visiting Lamberton Conservatory in winter is a welcome escape from the cold!

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Sunken Garden at Warner Castle

When you stroll around the back of Warner Castle and down the lawn, you’ll discover the Sunken Garden. It’s a peaceful retreat anytime of the year.

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Mount Hope Cemetery

Mount Hope Cemetery is a special place all year-round, but there’s something about Autumn that turns it into a virtual painting.

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