Oakland: Morcom Rose Garden welcomes help for upkeep

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Oakland: Morcom Rose Garden welcomes help for upkeep

Oakland: Morcom Rose Garden welcomes help for upkeep

OAKLAND — Given its visual appeal and quiet outdoor setting, Oakland’s Morcom Rose Garden offers much for tourists and locals alike.

A great place for a Sunday stroll or a morning jog, this picturesque and colorful place — an urban oasis and home to many varieties of roses — provides a soothing atmosphere. And it’s not just the plants, as visitors can enjoy waterworks and a pond, and sometimes other visitors, such as a wild turkey.

During his lifetime, Peter Wyeth Hurd took many a walk through the garden with his wife, Victoria. A musician by profession, Hurd — a nephew of famed artist Andrew Wyeth — found both inspiration and respite in Morcom, located close to where he lived.

“When Peter and I would walk in the Rose Garden, our vision — our ability to see — was transformed,” Victoria Hurd said. “We’d stroll and eventually sit down to take in the scene: banks of roses — white, crimson, gold — surrounded by the oaks and redwoods and interrupted by the reflection pool.”

But upkeep at Morcom — seven acres in all — gets challenging.

Victoria Hurd looks to take on the challenge as a type of tribute to her husband, who died Jan. 3, 2016, at age 85.

She’s also looking for help to do that.

“I want to honor Peter by increasing the care of the garden he loved, rather than by dedicating a plant or a monument to him,” she said. “The garden had eight gardeners at the start (in the 1930s), but now must rely on volunteers for most of its work.”

What became the Morcom Rose Garden dates back many years, some say to the 19th century. What is known is that the City of Oakland acquired the land as an open space between 1911 and 1915. By 1932, with the nation in the throes of the Great Depression, a businessmen’s club conceived and designed a garden on the property to highlight extravagant roses surrounded by a natural setting, particularly of redwood and native oak trees. Oakland Mayor Fred Morcom planted the first rose in 1933, and the facility received a number of updates in the ensuing decades.

Currently, the garden has to make do with minimal staffing. So a volunteer group known as Friends of the Morcom Rose Garden, keeps up most of the maintenance. Of that group, some master volunteers, known as “The Dedicated Deadheaders,” complete a certification program that allows them to volunteer in the garden on their own time.

Easily recognizable by their tie-dyed vests, the Deadheaders contribute much toward pruning and weeding.

Still, additional volunteers always are welcome.

“(The City of Oakland staff assigned to the garden consists of) about 30 percent of one person,” Victoria Hurd said. “He or part of the rest of the Oakland staff tend to the things we cannot, like addressing problems with the irrigation system.”

Hurd, who herself has pulled the weeds and grasses that grow in the flower beds, can attest to the difficulty and enormity of the ongoing project. But those who appreciate Morcom find it all worth the effort.

“There are almost always a dozen people in the garden,” Hurd said. “A lot of them are pushing strollers, a lot of them are jogging and a lot of them are just walking around enjoying what they see. That’s all very special.”


Those looking to lend a hand or simply wishing to visit will find the Morcom Rose Garden at 700 Jean St. Friends of the Morcom Rose Garden hold volunteer work days starting at 9 a.m. on the second Saturday of each month. In addition, the Dedicated Deadheaders also have work days every Wednesday beginning at 9 a.m.
The Friends of the Morcom Rose Garden also welcome donations. For more information, go to http://friendsofoaklandrose.org or email friendsofoaklandrose@gmail.com.


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Published at Tue, 09 May 2017 14:35:54 +0000