The rose garden is located on both sides of the ornamental parterre, filling up the areas designed by architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli. Roses were not planted there during the 18th century. Duke Peter purchased several kinds of roses that were popular at that time: hundred-petalled roses (Rosa centifolia), French roses (Rosa gallica), Damask roses (Rosa damascena), as well as English ‘York and Lancaster’ roses (Rosa damascena variegata). However, they were grown in pots in order for them to be replaced with other flowering plants when they had finished blossoming.
Collections of historical roses have been created in the six furthermost beds of the garden. The oldest roses grow on the western side, next to the gardener’s house. The first bed includes roses that were grown during the time of the Dukes Biron until 1795, whereas the second bed includes roses that correspond with the time of the next owners of the palace – the Zubov brothers – until 1822. This collection also includes many roses that blossomed in the garden of French empress Josephine in Malmaison. The third bed includes various species of roses, including their various forms and hybrids, stimulating thoughts about the long history of rose breeding, within which a large part was played by roses that do not stand out with particularly beautiful flowers, but have contributed to the formation of shrubs or their durability. In the eastern part of the garden, within the three outer historical rose beds, there are roses, which were popular during the time when the palace was owned by Counts Shuvalov (1824–1920). It is known that in 1852 the greenhouse of Countess Shuvalov included multiflora roses (Rosa multiflora), Noisette roses (Rosa noisette), Autumn Damask roses (Rosa damascena semperflorens), and hundred-petalled roses (Rosa centifolia). This part of the garden contains tea roses in pots, the first tea-hybrid roses and Chinese roses (Rosa chinensis), which have provided many species with the possibility to blossom repeatedly, as well as remontant hybrids. During recent years, climbing roses have been blossoming lavishly, including multiflorous species, as well as memorial roses (Rosa wichuraiana). There is also an interesting collection of burnet roses, consisting not only of the white roses that are common in Latvia, but also of pink and bright red ones, which have been bred in England out of Rosa pimpinellifolia. Unusually bright orange flowers can be seen on the early blossoming Rosa foetida bicolor. Its yellow variation has provided the selection of roses with a yellow tone. Overall there are approximately 670 species of historical roses in the garden.
The two lines of rugosa roses are considered a separate collection of historical roses, where 72 species of these hardy flowers are growing, having been bred from the final quarter of the 19th century until nowadays. A separate area is dedicated to 18 species of park roses, which have been created by the Latvian breeder Dzidra Rieksta from the rugosa rose. The rose ‘Lidija Freimane’, created by Latvian breeders and fruit-growers Aleksandrs Maizītis and Roberts Ozoliņš, can be seen there as well.
The largest part of the Rose Garden is taken up by modern roses, which have been grouped by colours, in order for it to be possible to compare the work of various breeders in the formation of a single colour variation. White, pink and red English roses grow in the front area on both sides of the parterre, and they resemble the historical roses the most. There are 52 rose circles dedicated to separate breeders or countries – in them varieties created by 72 breeders from 17 countries can be viewed.
The Blue Rose Garden and semicircle next to the gardener’s house portrays the legend of the blue rose grown by the gardener of Rundāle Palace. An interesting collection of “blue” roses can be seen there.
There are rose hedges formed along the eastern and western walls of the garden.
Overall there are approximately 2400 varieties of roses growing in the garden.