Munsinger Gardens and Clemens Gardens are two distinct, adjacent gardens on the banks of the Mississippi River northwest of the intersection of University Drive and Kilian Blvd near SCSU. Both showcasing the most beautiful parts of a Minnesota summer,
Munsinger Gardens on the lower east bank of the Mississippi River was originally the H.J. Anderson sawmill during the 1880s. The low river banks made this site ideal for the sawmill. In 1915, the City of St. Cloud acquired Riverside Park and what was to become Munsinger Gardens. Joesph Munsinger, the first Park Superintendent for the City of St. Cloud, was the catalyst for Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration involvement. His passion led to the Park Department’s first greenhouse. The city named the “flower part of Riverside Park” for Munsinger in 1938.
As for the garden on the top of the hill, it was created by a wealthy businessman by the name of Bill Clemens who lived across the street. Bill’s wife Virginia suffered from multiple sclerosis and drew comfort from the view of the gardens. Bill purchased what would become the Clemens Garden and donated it to the City of St. Cloud. He also donated the funding to create what is now the Virginia Clemens Rose Garden. They donated millions to create a seven-acre European style park adjacent to the existing one, so Virginia would have an even better view from her window. Created in the tradition of the great gardens of Europe, the Formal Garden was the first of six. The others include the Rest Area Garden, the White Garden, the Perennial Garden, the Treillage Garden and finally, the Virginia Clemens Rose Garden that was inspired by Mrs. Clemens great love of roses; her middle name was “Rose”. A life-size statue of Virginia Clemens depicts her in her wheelchair with her husband behind her, his hand on her shoulder. The statue faces the nearby rose garden. Serving as an incredibly elaborate memorial, there are 1,100 roses including floribundas, tree roses, hybrid teas, shrub roses, and grandifloras. Notable mentions; the Renaissance Fountain (pictured) with Cranes, features a replica of a sculpture of Hebe, cupbearer to the gods.
The most colorful time to visit the gardens is usually the end of July, but they’re open from late May to late September.