January 21, 2005
A group of East Valley residents wants to make sure spring comes up rosy in gardens along Southern Avenue at Mesa Community College. And they want your help.
The Mesa-East Valley Rose Society is asking for volunteers to help prune some of the more than 5,000 rosebushes in the MCC Rose Garden on Saturdays in January and February.
Carol Poe, a volunteer coordinator for the group, said rosarians and volunteers prune for about three hours on Saturday mornings, beginning at 9 a.m. Hired gardeners do heavy pruning with weed whackers, Poe said, and volunteers remove dead branches and re-position those that overlap. Last Saturday, about 40 people were in the garden "working like mad," Poe said.
The weekends of work will pay off soon, she added. Warm weather means pruned bushes will bloom quickly and prolifically.
"There will probably be 50,000 blooms at one time," Poe said.
No experience is necessary to volunteer, though volunteers are encouraged to bring their own pruning clippers, thorn-proof gloves and longsleeved shirts. Expert rosarians scatter throughout the garden on Saturday mornings to show volunteers how to prune the bushes and give them tips for gardening at home, Poe said.
Phyllis Humphry, also a volunteer coordinator, said the expert knowledge is especially helpful.
Volunteers get hands-on "practice on how to do their own gardens, and the satisfaction of helping other people and the community by maintaining something as beautiful as the rose garden," Humphry said.
Since it was planted with a couple hundred donated rosebushes in 1997, the garden has become a landmark for rosarians in the southwest. It’s cared for via a partnership between the college and the rose society.
The two-acre garden has gained national recognition and became a display garden for the All-American Rose Selection. It’s one of 26 gardens in the country that receives about 200 new rosebushes each year to test and evaluate the new varieties for two years at a time.
"It’s really exciting because we’re on the forefront," Poe said.
The garden recently added a Veterans Garden in which all the rose varieties have patriotic names. A test garden for miniature roses is now under construction. Poe said that feature would be completed in the next couple of years.
Help wanted What: Pruning roses with the Mesa-East Valley Rose Society. Volunteers can learn pruning techniques for their own gardens. When: 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays in January and February. Where: Mesa Community College rose garden, on the south side of Southern Avenue just east of Dobson Road. Information: Carol Poe at (480) 895-7793 or Phyllis Humphry at (480) 529-8172.