With more than 30 purple, yellow, red, pink and white rose bushes in full bloom for the city each spring, summer and fall, the Tracy Jenkins Memorial Rose Garden is a staple in the Lincolnton community.
However, the beautiful buds are in need of community funds and donations to maintain the garden’s existence and upkeep at the Charles R. Jonas Library on West Main Street.
Named in 2010 in honor of Jenkins, a former Lincoln County horticulturalist and supervisor with the Grounds Department — now part of Parks and Recreation — the garden is situated on the left side of the library’s property.
Former Cooperative Extension Director George Stoudemire started the garden, tending to it frequently throughout the year, following the library’s opening, according to Cooperative Extension’s Interim Director and Agent, Melinda Houser.
Stoudemire’s wife, Louise, served as a Lincolnton librarian and donated a number of her husband’s rose bushes from their home to the community garden, Houser said.
Library officials have no doubt the flowers brighten the downtown area and serve as a popular place for taking photos.
“People often stop and express their appreciation,” Library Director Jennifer Sackett said. “They tell me how pretty (the flowers) are and how much they enjoy having (the garden) here.”
The Cleveland-Lincoln County Rose Society spends a day each spring pruning and fertilizing the bushes, cleaning the beds and purchasing any necessary disease-prevention sprays for the garden.
According to Jo Ann Ostrander, club president and member of the Lincoln County Master Gardner Association, the rose society’s funds for maintaining the area are dwindling fast and that much of the money they received from the community in 2010 for garden upkeep is now gone.
“We had enough to establish the garden…but now we need to replenish the money,” Ostrander said.
With 115 roses bushes of her own at home, the club official is not only a passionate rose enthusiast but also an expert, serving as one of the society’s consulting rosarians, helping anyone in the community who has questions about the particular flower.
She claims her strong love for the rose stems partly from its long blooming period.
“No other flower blooms from May through November,” she said. “They’re always in bloom during growing season.”
Ostrander also views her gardening niche as a fun pastime that brings joys to others.
“I like to garden and share the roses that I grow,” she said.
However, she won’t plant a rose bush on her own property unless the species is fragrant — her favorite kind — or visually appealing in some way.
“It has to be an especially beautiful rose, if it’s not fragrant, to be in my garden,” she said. “You have a reason for growing roses.”
Each of the rose society’s roughly 20 members frequently exchanges their blooms among the group.
Many members are experts in hybridizing — or crossbreeding — and create a variety of blended species.
Ostrander is currently dabbling in grafting, she said.
The process includes blending the tissues of two different rose plants and combining the rootstalks to yield a new product.
In addition to roses, the local memorial garden includes azalea and holly bushes along with a tall Japanese Maple tree towering in its center.
Last year, a group of local Boy Scouts added a portion of a brick sidewalk inside the tranquil area, Ostrander said.
The society’s next project for the garden is to install a six-foot arbor based off the one in Ostrander’s personal garden.
The effort will include assistance from ground staff with Parks and Recreation, a department which has assisted in the garden’s annual maintenance since 2009, Director Erma Dean Hoyle noted.
“We’re glad to be able to help with it,” she said. “It’s a special place for people who meant a lot to the community and it’s a great place to read a book.”
Ostrander revealed how the county has agreed to pay for the arbor and that her husband is currently constructing the piece at home.
She said the structure should be placed in the garden by March.
Ostrander is hopeful that although the garden is low on funding this year, the community will step in and do its part to protect and preserve the peaceful spot, where many of the planted shrubs have been donated and named after citizens’ favorite celebrities or loved ones.
“Whoever hybridizes the bush gets to name it,” she said.
While certain bushes are named after prominent people like actress Elizabeth Taylor and T.V. chef Julia Child, one certain plant, the Peggy Martin rose bush, holds the name of its former owner.
Ostrander said the bush was once covered in more than 30 feet of water in New Orleans in 2005 during one of the nation’s most horrific storms, Hurricane Katrina.
After Martin and her husband saved certain pieces — or “canes” — of the bush, they propagated them and sold them, donating a portion of the proceeds to area gardens destroyed by Katrina in the Deep South.
Ostrander said the memorial garden’s new arbor will stand next to the Peggy Martin bush, which will eventually spread its canes up and around the man-made structure.
For more information on the Cleveland-Lincoln Rose Society or how to donate to the club, call (828) 428-3508.
The group is set to complete its annual work in the garden on March 15.