The Dugald MacKenzie Rose Garden is the pride of the city of Palmerston North and is located in the Victoria Esplanade Gardens.
Opened in 1968, the garden has three sections: the formal rose beds, the trial grounds and the plant variety rights collection. The garden contains over 5000 roses in named beds. It is much admired by many local, national and international visitors who pass through its gates. The garden was named after Dugald MacKenzie the Superintendent of Parks and Reserves from 1946 to 1966. He contributed significantly to the gardens development.
The garden is also home of the New Zealand Rose Society International Rose Trial Grounds. These trials, which have been held for 33 years, are for new roses. A panel of judges assesses the roses over a two-year period. Assessments are made for plant health, freedom of flowering, appearance, fragrance, and novelty.
Awards are presented at the end of each trial for the highest pointed rose (the Gold Star of the South Pacific), the best amateur bred rose (the Silver Star of the City of Palmerston North), novelty, fragrance and for varieties scoring over 70 points in the trial (Certificates of Merit).
There is also a special section of roses devoted to Plant Variety Rights (PVR) varieties and over the years hundreds of roses have been correctly identified by comparing them with roses in the PVR reference collection.
The Dugald MacKenzie Rose Garden is open daily to the public from dawn to dusk and is free of charge. It is often used for weddings, gatherings and events such as the annual Esplanade Open Day where thousands gather to enjoy the wonderful setting.
In 2003, the Dugald Mackenzie Rose Garden received the Garden of Excellence award from the World Federation of Rose Societies.