By Mo Moore

You may have heard the phase &#8220stop and smell the roses”, but if you travel to the Bravo Lake Botanical Gardens in Woodlake you can take that phrase literally. With over a hundred varieties of roses currently at peak bloom the bouquet is simply awe-inspiring.

The roses are only a part of the botanical gardens but you can find them all, from carpet to climbers, miniatures to modern hybrids throughout the gardens.

&#8220They're at their best right now,” said Farm Advisor Manuel Jimenez. &#8220But there are some that have yet to bloom.”

The gardens contain over 1,400 roses that are cared for year round. After the roses reach full bloom, they are cut back and fertilized. In winter the roses are pruned and then fertilized again later in the season. With proper irrigation, nutrition and not over fertilizing Jimenez says that's all it takes. For would be gardeners who visit that develop green thumb envy Jimenez has only this advice, &#8220be patient.”

Work on the gardens is done by a volunteer basis staff on the weekends or in the evenings. The 9-acre garden itself is a source of pride for the community of Woodlake and you can find locals walking or biking around the garden all year round.

The garden is funded mostly by private donations and plant donations from local nurseries. The public is welcome to donate money, plants or their time. The Garden's &#8220want list” includes historical varieties of plants, fruit trees and a tractor.

The variation of colorful roses presents visitors with a feast for the eyes, but don't forget about the smell.

&#8220A lot of the roses were selected for aroma,” Jimenez said.

There are roses that smell like, well, roses and others that smell like everything from sweet to spicy or even citrusy. Jimenez recommends visiting the gardens in the morning when the fragrance is strongest. Whatever your fancy the sights and smells make for a memorable experience for each and every visitor. The Bravo Lake Botanical Gardens are located on Naranjo Boulevard, two blocks east of Valencia Boulevard n Woodlake. Admission is free. For more information call 564-3607.

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