For proof that the best things in life are free, it doesn’t take more than a late spring or summertime visit to the magnificent rose garden at Renziehausen Park located in McKeesport, Pennsylvania just outside of Pittsburgh.

The three-acre garden houses a seemingly endless variety of roses, some which assuredly you never knew existed. The garden is cared for by passionate volunteers. Featuring a charming herb garden, a perennial garden coupled with a butterfly garden, a water pond, colors that defy what a rainbow has to offer and a centerpiece gazebo to cool you on summers most unforgiving day or evening.

An early June visit will greet you with over 2000 stunning roses in all of their glory. You will be spellbound as you stroll the brick path that ushers you through the garden. Most likely you will be intoxicated by the continuous fragrance given by the veteran roses with numerous petals. As you slowly step through the magical paradise, perhaps a variety named “Rio Samba” flirts with you by way of its transitional shades of red, yellow orange and white. Without a spoken word, it transmits an invitation to lower your face and breathe inward. You are speechless and properly inebriated. You truly know now what it means to stop and smell the roses.

Recognizing that you have singled out one of perhaps a thousand gems blooming, you come to terms with the realization that your visit will be much longer than you intended.
Invariably you will take notice of an elderly couple seeking shade. They may sit under the perfectly place gazebo on that Sunday afternoon ruminating the day they were married. Perhaps they did what countless newlyweds do before they make their grand entrance to the reception and visit the rose garden to be photographed in a truly heavenly setting.
Thousands upon thousands visit this utopia yearly. The natural beauty you will encounter is endless and very memorable.

The garden serves as a backdrop for a bevy of late spring and summertime events. Most Sunday evenings are the perfect setting for local as well as high profile artists at the park’s amphitheater. The Vogues and The Skylines have been regulars on the summer concert menu. Local talent performs at the shell-shaped stage. This includes the brilliance of Sal Ventura, founder of Dr. Zoot and the Suits. The weekly performances begin late in May and continue through Labor Day Weekend. The Labor Day weekend closes with an annual rib- fest next to the shell-shaped stage.

The garden awakens at sunrise 365 days a year and is free to the public. Its gates are closed at sundown. To be there at sunrise is priceless on a summer morning. You will see a vast variety of songbirds and other fowl native to western Pennsylvania. Blue Jays and cardinals along with gold finch add to the remarkable color that you will see at full bloom that only a sunrise can provide.

An early morning visitor is sure to find one of many places within the garden which block all view of the world’s activities. The many adult-sized trees within the garden absorb the noise made by cars passing by on Eden Park Blvd. The sweet, high-pitch sound of the male cardinal coupled with the rising scent from dew drops upon the rose blooms will create a euphoric sensation that only nature can deliver.

A day that threatens rain should not stop you from visiting. In fact, cloudy day is truly better for viewing the color delivered by the garden. Colors are truly richer with less light and no shadows are cast with a cloud’s cover. Ask any professional photographer and he or she will agree.

In addition to the better colors, a cloudy day may provide a brief shower that will dampen your shoes but will saturate humid air with fragrance. The Rose Garden becomes a perfume garden.

One last thought or tip to offer: Forsake your cell phone, you don’t need distracted as somethings are better left to the senses. Your cell phone camera will not do the garden justice as your mind, memory and sense of smell will be more than enough. This experience is for your spirit, not 21st century gadgets.

Plan Your Trip…

Renziehausen Park (Renzie park, as the locals call her) offers a vast amount of ways to spend a summer day. Pack a tennis racquet in your car and serve a ball or two to your date or mate on some pristine public courts. Mario Lemieux’s Foundation provided a 1-million dollar deck hockey rink for the park. Cool off at the wading pool if the heat is getting to you, or simply walk the trails that cover the scenic park.

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Hailing from the Steel City, Gilbert Perkins is a Pittsburgh native. Although his preferred colors are black and gold, he dabbles in having a green thumb and an intricate eye for gardening and landscaping. He is a long-time barber in the Pittsburgh area and has 3 children. Although he seems to be a walking sports encyclopedia, Gilbert can hold his own in a conversation in horticulture and current barbering trends.