Volunteers help rebuild Rose Garden after Hurricane Irma
A brochure for the Cape Coral Gardens states “Cape Coral Gardens is like no place on earth. A spectacular showcase by day, an enchanted wonderland by night, a great place to visit any time of the year.” On the next page it says, “Garden of Roses. Have you every seen thousand of rose bushes in bloom at the same time? A unique display of over 40,000 rose bushes (and boasting a 150-foot long foot with fountains), the Garden of Roses is one of Florida’s most beautiful gardens.” While the Cape Coral Garden was closed in 1970 and later replaced with the Tarpon Point Development, the Cape Coral Historical Society/Museum keeps the memory of the garden alive.
On Memorial Day, May 30, 1991, there was a public dedication of the Memorial Rose Garden, sponsored by the city Parks and Recreation Department and the Cape Coral Historical Society. The garden is located at the Cultural Park campus. The concept of a Memorial Rose Garden began as a memorial to Lois E. Herbert’s father. Today, the garden is maintained by volunteers from the Garden Club of Cape Coral. Sylvia Swartz is the leader of those volunteers.
When asked which rose is Sylvia’s favorite, she simply stated, “While I love all roses, I guess my favorite is Mrs. B.R. Cant, which is pink almost shocking pink, sweet smelling and flowers prolifically.” A Mrs. B.R. Cant can be seen in the Rose Garden at the museum.
Today, the Rose Garden is beginning to once again be a showcase but unfortunately Hurricane Irma was not to kind to her. The garden was severely impacted by Irma, which uprooted four large cypress trees in four of the rose beds, resulting in the roses in those beds being crushed and/or uprooted themselves. In addition, many roses were toppled and had to be pulled back into place and staked. The garden was also flooded and we lost 90 percent of the topsoil, all of which had to be replaced.
Sylvia and the other volunteers took on the task of rebuilding the garden. Their first job was to get the cypress root balls out of the gardens, which was very hard work. Then they turned their attention to replanting and staking the uprooted roses and narrowing in the topsoil. Narrowing soil is physical hard work, especially since most of the volunteers are older, but after several weeks of twice weekly moving six barrows of soil, they were fortunate to receive help in moving the soil from the very strong son of one of their volunteers.
Irma has left the garden with many gaps and it is in need many replacement roses. The Cape Coral Historical Museum is asking that you help Sylvia and her dedicated volunteers and donate roses to the garden. The cost for a rose bush is $40 but any support would be greatly appreciated.
To help the Museum preserve the memory of the Cape Coral Rose Garden with a donation, please stop by the Cape Coral Historical Society/Museums at 544 Cultural Park Blvd., Cape Coral, 33990, call 239-772-7027 or mail your donation to the Museum.
For further information about the Cape Coral Historical Museum and what they have to offer go to www.capecoralhistoricalmuseum.org.
Wendy Schroder is president Cape Coral Historical Society.