Sunday, May 3, 2009

Oakland: Morcom Rose Garden

Oakland Municipal Rose Garden, c. 1932 (courtesy of Oakland Heritage Association)

"A rose is a rose is a rose." Sistah Gertrude said.

A beauty of a rose at the Oakland Rose Garden
photo by K. Smokey Cormier

Today I visited the WPA-created Morcom Rose Garden here in wonderful Oakland, California. I had never heard of it before but recently saw it on the list of places visited by the author of "36 hours in Oakland, Calif." in the NYTimes. I first moved to the San Francisco Bay Area ... holey-moley!... 36 years ago and I have lived in Oakland two other times before now. And, nope, never heard about this gem of a park. It's gorgeous and smells great. It's not completely surrounded by tall trees ... but it has a lot of them on both sides. They provide fresh air and quiet.

Tall trees are on both sides of the Oakland Rose Garden
(all photos copyright 2009 K. Smokey Cormier)

Double-click on photos to zoom in

One of the other visitors there today told me that this park wasn't always a good place to visit. It was ruined by people who messed up the plants, threw garbage around, and hung out there shooting up. I was one of four people there this morning. So few visitors because it had just rained and it was cold, wet, foggy, overcast. But it was also lovely. The other visitor told me that volunteers worked and worked on this park and brought it back. There are still work parties almost every Saturday.

The Oakland Rose Garden also called the Morcom Rose Garden,
named for former Oakland Mayor Fred Morcom

I noticed all these names embedded in the concrete path. This is the Mother of the Year Walk, displaying names of all the women chosen as Oakland's Mother of the Year since 1954. The things you learn when you read voraciously and go snooping about in the world!

From the City of Oakland Parks and Recreation Department's website:
Morcom Rose Garden
Located near Grand Avenue
700 Jean Street, Oakland, California 94610

Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, also referred to as the Morcom Amphitheater of Roses, is a fantasyland of a thousand fragrant roses. The garden which features a large Italian-style pavilion (which only facilitates the restrooms), a reflective pool and terraces overflowing with gorgeous roses. The first roses bloomed in 1932 at Morcom Rose Garden, today the Gardens feature 6,000 plants and 300 varities of rose bushes throughout the garden's eight-acres.

A peaceful oasis in the middle of the City, hidden amongst endless beds of roses. The garden is conveniently situated just off Grand Avenue, not far from Lake Merritt, the treasured jewel of the city. The gardens are available for reservation Mother's Day through October 31.

In 1959, the Morcom Amphitheater located in the Oakland Municipal Rose Garden was officially dedicated, where it became a favorite location for weddings. It remains as a resplendent back drop for brides and grooms preparing to tie the knot in matrimonial bliss [also brides and brides, grooms and grooms -- Ms. Manitoba must add]. Along the garden is a serene 10-tier waterfall on the western hillside gently shaded by towering trees, with delicate pink Pride of Oakland polyantha shrubs resting on both sides. Four varieties of Peace fill the center bed of the rear terrace, where old garden roses rescued from around California clamber up the rock retaining walls. Rose bushes bloom May through September annually.

This rose had the most wonderful fragrance

I can't wait to go on a sunny day when these roses have opened up.

The reflective pool

I love these bushy types

And here is the 10-tiered waterfall

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