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Call to Action for America's Rose Garden

Last year, in American Rose, we introduced the Great Garden Restoration Project for the American Rose Center at ARS national headquarters at Shreveport, La. We told of the Master Plan 2017-2022, which recalls the history of the gardens; and which calls for consolidation of many of the individual gardens, demands deer control, tree removal, efficient irrigation, soil restoration; and outlines the goals that will insure our success in these gardens well into the future.

Recently, Paul Zimmerman and Richard Beales revealed their vision for the gardens’ design –the ‘History of the Rose in America.’ Visitors to the garden will learn of the milestones of the 126-year-old Society and the roses that helped to shape that history. The design is being funded by a ‘partnership’ with Jackson & Perkins, a long-time supplier of roses for the ARC. This tremendous gift is testimony to our long friendship with this great rose company and our members, long after the work of restoring the gardens is finished.


As this is being written, new walkways are being installed in the Core garden. It is the second such major installation, the outcome of a grant from the Louisiana Tourism Bureau Recreational Trails Grant Program.


The first stop in the new garden will be the J. Horace McFarland Plaza, an impressive tribute to the man recently named “Father of the American Rose Society.” We hope to see a new rose introduced in his honor and growing in this garden. Several earlier roses named for this great man do not appear to be in commerce.


The Lions Club is moving forward with their plans to install a sensory garden and much-needed handicap ramp off the side of Wellan Terrace. The national organization of Lions Clubs has provided a match for all monies raised in the Louisiana Lions Clubs’ Centennial fund-raising drive to build this Lions Legacy Garden. Their plan is to complete the project by June.


Also off the Wellan Terrace, we have dedicated the new Lawn Terrace & Staircase, an impressive transition down the “hill” from Klima Rose Hall, which also serves as event seating and provides a beautiful entrance for the many brides who hold their wedding events at the gardens.


Our President, Pat Shanley and John DelVecchio are donating an important structure that will serve as the ‘rose garden gate’, to be positioned along the walk between the Watkins Reflection Pool and McFarland Plaza. The ‘gate’ will be an elegant and useful pavilion, a focal point which will add beauty and distinction to the area.


The front entrance to the garden got a giant and soon-to-be beautiful boost – six 12-foot-tall Towers of Rambler Roses will welcome visitors to the garden. This exciting installation was donated by Chambersville Tree Farms, which provided the towers, the roses, delivery and installation. Two more towers will be placed elsewhere in the gardens and will showcase ‘Peggy Martin’ roses.


The new garden design was approved by the ARS Board of Directors in Jacksonville, FL, earlier this month. This design will take the garden visitor “back in time” as they explore the ‘History of the Rose in America.’ However, there is already a lot to see at the gardens, now that spring has arrived in Louisiana. A large group of Master Gardeners and Rosarians turned out on a recent ‘Volunteer Day’ to accomplish the planting of the new Cleo Barnwell Garden of Pollinators and Rose Companions; planting of the new Garden of Louisiana Trees and Shrubs, and the installation of the Towers of Rambler Roses. A new Herb Garden is being established by a ARK-LA-TEX Herb Society. Labeling of roses, trees, shrubs and other plants has begun; the Registry of Plants has been established. A new planting of ‘Peace’ roses was installed outside the large windows of the Hering Gift Shop in time to celebrate the US Postal Service’s presentation of the new ‘Peace’ Rose Stamp, which national “first-day issue” took place in the garden on April 21st. The gift shop, which for the past few years has been at the Administration Building, has been returned to the Hering Gift Shop at Klima Rose Hall, a wonderful sign of progress to come.


One of the most important elements of the Master Plan is the promise to elevate the quality of garden maintenance. It will be accomplished by increased oversight and participation by Master Rosarians of the ARC Committee. This major change should be reassuring to ARS members and generous donors who expect to see our garden maintained with a higher standard of excellence.


The Collin County Rose Society is to be commended, not only for its recent, very generous gift which allowed us to purchase the over 4200 linear feet of deer fence, but also for the challenge it issued to all of America’s rose societies, to join them in supporting the Great Garden Restoration Project.


And finally, we want to express the sincere appreciation of the ARS and ARC staff and garden volunteers for the recent generous contributions to the gardens already received and we wish to invite you to be a part of this historic journey. There are many opportunities for giving to the gardens. Please contact Laura Seabaugh if you are interested in joining this effort to restore “America’s Rose Garden”. Your gift will be put to good use as we continue to develop the gardens.

We invite you to follow our progress in accomplishing this historic milestone for the ARS and the ARC – the total restoration of the Gardens of the American Rose Center.


Marilyn Wellan is the American Rose Center's Coordinator of the Great American Garden Restoration Project, a former ARS President and a Gold Honor Medal Recipient

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