Stop and smell the roses at Bellevue Heights - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

Stop and smell the roses at Bellevue Heights

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Posted: Friday, April 8, 2011 9:45 am | Updated: 1:41 pm, Wed Oct 10, 2012.

Pay a visit to Bellevue Heights, and the rose garden is the first thing you will see. Arrive on a breezy day like Thursday and you will smell them even before you see them.

In fact, the church’s rose garden is such a marvel that for 11 years now it has been the centerpiece of a two-day festival. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday and today, Bellevue Heights at 9440 W. Hutton Drive welcomes the community to come by and smell the roses.

“I got out of my car, and I could smell them immediately,” said Judy Walter of Sun City West. “This is fantastic. They are so beautiful.”

Jack Kiteley, who tends the rose garden, said there are about 100 plants.

“It’s a consistent kind of work, taking care of them,” he said. “At times it can be quite labor-intensive. In December, we trim them all the way down and a couple of months later, we start the feeding cycle. In the spring, they bloom.”

The festival also featured dozens of arts and crafts displays, covering everything from model airplanes to Russian eggs and puppetry. Joe Plesuchenko, who sings in the Bellevue Heights choir, was in the garden Thursday as a volunteer. He said the rose garden is a special place for everyone who visits.

“I’m glad we had a windy day today because the aroma is beautiful,” he said. “There is just something so special about Mother Nature, and this is a gorgeous time of year.”

Kiteley said the rose garden draws a crowd even when the festival is not going on.

“We’ll often see people bring their lunches over here so they can sit and eat among the roses,” he said. “That’s been going on since they started blooming, for a couple of weeks now. I think it’s a great thing for the community to have this place to rest and relax and reflect.”

Asked why he thinks roses are so attractive and why they seem to draw people to them, Kiteley said he thinks it might be spiritual.

“They remind me of the resurrection of Jesus,” he said. “The roses fade and then come back to life in the spring and are reborn. I think people see something in that, something very special.”

Jeff Dempsey may be reached at 623-876-2531 or

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