“Who the heck cares whether you save a rose?” The words of the late Barbara Oliva, rosarian and a former curator at Sacramento’s Historic Rose Garden have resonated in my mind this week as I read the news of the City of Sacramento’s plans to remove and or attempt to relocate one of the world’s most prized collections of roses at its historic City Cemetery.
Sacramento Bee reporter Debbie Arrington first broke the story citing reports that due to a recent designation as a historic site, the cemetery would fall under new guidelines requiring the removal of arches and roses that touched monuments. Read the full story here. Read her full story
This story has sent shock waves around the world as the news spread that this prized collection of roses was in peril at the hands of bureaucratic lawmakers in Sacramento who have probably never even bothered to visit this magnificent resting place for those helped settle their town. We implore them to spend some time with the roses before making decisions.
Attempts to reach council members and the mayor’s office as well as call to the National Park Service office yielded a statement sent by Judy Ulich, Director of Convention and Cultural Services for the City of Sacramento on behalf of City Manager John Shirey – City Manager – City of Sacramento California, It says in part:
“The rose garden was established in 1992 and is made up of a collection of historic roses of the period. Ninety-eight percent of the current roses were planted in the 1990s. Two percent of the rose population is made up of the species from the Victorian era. At no time were there any recommendations to have the roses ripped out or killed off in any way. The roses have become a beautiful addition to the cemetery and are cherished for the beauty that they bring. The guidelines put together by the ad-hoc committee call for roses to be trimmed around the grave sites so that visitors can access and see the headstones. During the planning sessions, it was also recommended that the climbing roses and non-historic trellises be relocated to the stone fence that surrounds the cemetery. The move of the trellises will take place in December.”
The comments above seem promising but are fraught with error. The statement says that many of the roses were planted in the 1990’s, and the statement that only two percent are old garden roses is inaccurate. This gives the impression that there are varieties easily obtainable in commerce today. The truth is that the roses planted during that time were from cuttings of antique roses obtained by caring volunteers from roses that have since disappeared from commerce or are very rare, many of which only live in this garden and in the hearts and minds of those who once grew them.
I do not believe the elected officials in the city of Sacramento know what a treasure it has in this garden, nor do they recognize the international significance of this collection of roses. As someone who has been growing roses virtually all my life, I can tell you that many of these old roses, especially of this size and stature growing on arches, would NOT survive if cut and moved to the stone fencing that surrounds the cemetery.
As an advocate for roses in this country, I know all too well the great disconnect that often exists between City Hall and parks employees. I implore Mr. Shirey, the City Council of the City of Sacramento, the National Park Service, the Volunteers who work tirelessly to help maintain and preserve this garden along side the city’s dedicated parks employees to work TOGETHER as a TEAM to save the beauty and allure of this garden, while maintaining a resplendent resting place for those who endured “many dangers, toils and snares” to bring the city of Sacramento to life and they deserve a resting place that befits their struggle.
So, to answer Barbara’s question, “Who the heck cares whether you save a rose?” I do! And, she did and I know tens of thousands of rosarians around the world who care. A literal legion of people who care about the history and significance of the world’s most beloved flower and I ask that you voice your opinion to those in charge in Sacramento.
I am calling upon rose lovers from around the world to unite in this matter and to show their support for the rose and is preservation.
Please write to City Council members and the Mayor asking them to SAVE THE ROSES at all costs, even if it means turning down the NPS Historic Site designation.
Here is a list of their email addresses:
Please share this post, tell everyone you know that this is happening and to be vigilant in your own communities so that we don’t let another rare and endangered rose fall at the hands of an uninformed electorate.