That famous quote by Gertrude Stein may make sense to many, but to true rose lovers and connoisseurs, I’m sure it couldn’t be further from the truth. You’ll find many of these folks, and many more roses, at the Morcom Rose Garden on Jean Street just off of Grand Avenue. Have you been there? It’s a real Oaktown gem, established over 80 years ago and still going strong!
I stopped by the garden yesterday and have to tell you that, while still beautiful and serene, it is not the prime time to visit this garden. Some early bloomers are already strutting their stuff (mostly climbing roses, pictured below), but the real show won’t happen for another month or so (see buds in following picture). The place should be exploding in May & June.
The garden, formerly known as the Morcom Amphitheater of Roses, “was constructed in 1932 as a project of the Works Progress Administration. It was named in honor of former Oakland mayor Fred N. Morcom. As well as thousands of roses, the garden features winding walkways, a reflecting pool, and a cascading fountain. The garden is available for weddings and can hold up to 200 people.” (Wikipedia)
My pictures do not do this garden justice due to the cloudy day on which I visited, and the lack of blooms. Here are some more exciting photos to pique your interest…
Pictured above are some of the garden’s volunteer force. They call themselves Dedicated Deadheaders (anyone familiar with gardening will know the term “deadheading” which is a pruning technique to remove spent flowers and spur the growth of new ones). Anyone can volunteer on the 2nd Saturday and 1st Wednesday of every month (9am to 1pm), but you’ll have to clock a certain number of hours before you get one of their groovy Grateful Dead inspired tie-dyed vests.
There’s a special volunteer workday this Saturday, April 17th in honor of Earth Day…. same hours 9am to 1pm.
Though the garden is small, it’s chock full of an incredible variety of roses laid out in a very traditional architectural arrangement for rose gardens of its period. One of the volunteers told me the technical term for one of the large clusters of plantings in a circular arrangement of geometrically shaped beds, but I’m blanking on the word right now. When I said “huh?” he said “the head of the lollipop.” Oh. I see.
Throughout the garden are lovely shaded walkways, plenty of benches for resting, and gorgeous stone steps that will take you to incredible views from above. The park is also surrounded by a small native plant buffer that provides habitat for a wide variety of birds (the songs were wonderful) and other critters. Check out this wild turkey who decided to dip his toes (claws?) in the reflecting pool!
The garden is currently competing to be dubbed “America’s Best Rose Garden.” Here’s a brief message about the contest and a link to vote. There’s money and prestige for Oaktown at stake! Please visit the garden and cast your vote…
Dear Bay Area Friends,
As you know, one of my special loves is the Morcom Rose Garden. Over the last couple of years the talent, experience and vision of a committed City gardener, Tora Rocha, has stimulated a resurgence of volunteers, programs and regular maintenance so that the garden, now certified as an AARS garden (All-American Rose Selection) is earning recognition.
We’re competing to be America’s Best Rose Garden for 2010, so that’s where you come in. The contest has several steps but the first one is to get a lot of votes. The ten gardens that get the largest number of individual votes will be finalists. Then a panel of experts will come to review and judge the gardens. The ultimate winner will receive $2500 and become part of the AARS publicity campaign.
And Please vote for us in The AARS’s Contest ” Americas Best Rose Garden” We are in the running and could win some very needed money and publicity.
Mary Ellen Navas
All-American Rose Selections’ (AARS) “America’s Best Rose Garden” competition is a national competition to find the best public rose gardens in America. The voting officially starts on April 1st, 2010 and closes July 1st, 2010. Communities across America can vote for their favorite local garden.
Vote now and vote for Oakland, California’s Morcom Rose Garden