DANVILLE -- Most of spring's early bulbs have come and gone, but now is the perfect time to catch one of the Valley's showiest natural displays -- the memorial rose garden at Danville's Osage Station Park.
Perhaps best-known for its sports fields, playground and picnic areas, Osage is home to hundreds of colorful, fragrant roses that are at their best and biggest during the first bloom of the season. The flowers ring a portion of the park, providing a long stretch of beauty and quiet contemplation for visitors.
"It's just a beautiful sight, and right now you can't beat it," said Linda Holmes, president of the Diablo Women's Garden Club.
The rose garden, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, has graced Osage Station Park since its dedication in December 1984. Conceived as a memorial following the deaths of two children of club members, today it honors the memory of many whose names are inscribed on bronze plaques beneath the fragrant flowers.
One of the few public rose gardens in the area, it's cared for jointly by the Diablo Women's Garden Club, the Alamo-Danville Newcomers Club, the Danville Garden Club and the Town of Danville. It's a favorite quiet spot for both local residents and those who care for the roses, said Holmes.
"It's peaceful; when you go out and start pruning, everybody on the loop walk stops and thanks you for taking care of the roses," she said. It's just a really neat, good-for-your-soul kind of thing seeing these people come by."
The garden consists of 1,417 memorial rose bushes and an additional 91 roses honoring military veterans, according to John Teixeira, parks supervisor for the Town of Danville. They are located on the west side of the park behind the playground, on the east side along the creek and on the south side on a triangle by Charlotte Wood Middle School.
With the exception of climbing roses along the fence line and some trellised roses, all are in wooden planter boxes that were purchased as memorial gifts. Teixeira and his staff do the heavy winter pruning, fertilize the roses and keep the irrigation functioning, while the garden's rose volunteers deadhead and prune the plants from April through November, keeping them tidy and in bloom.
"To be honest, I couldn't maintain all these roses without these ladies," Teixeira said. "They're out there every single week ... (and) they also donate money periodically to help support the roses and to replace those that fail."
The roses need a fair amount of water, Teixeira said, but he'll be keeping a tight rein on their bubbler irrigation system this summer in light of the drought, he said. With luck, the roses will need only about six minutes of water twice a week to thrive. In return, they give much pleasure to the community, he said.
"A lot of people like to come to that park because of those roses," he said. "There's a nice pathway that goes around -- it's three-quarters of a mile around and there are roses on 60 percent of that walk. Through this next month it's just so beautiful out there. The first bloom is always the best."
Linda Holmes agreed.
"It's just a comfort," she said. "You're walking around a park. It's a safe place, and early in the morning you can do a very quiet couple of loops and refresh your batteries."
The Diablo Women's Garden Club will celebrate Osage Station Park's Memorial Rose Garden's 30th anniversary at its May meeting. Anyone who participated in the inception of the garden, has a memorial rose box or a special memory of the garden may contact Linda Holmes or Jill Corte at www.diablowomensgardenclub.com.
Osage Station Park's Memorial Rose Garden is at 816 Brookside Drive in Danville. Approximately 60 percent of the three-quarter-mile loop around the park is edged with roses. There is a restroom at the park as well as limited bench seating.
While most of the memorial rose boxes are filled, eight available boxes remain available for sponsorship at a cost of $800 each. For more information, contact Danville's park maintenance department at 925-314-3450.
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