Like many labors of love at Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) tending the rose garden is a time-honored tradition. Church members gathered Saturday morning to prune and weed the colorful rose garden that greets members and visitors when they enter the church parking lot. Beautiful from the outdoors, the roses may also be viewed through the windows from inside the church parlor and fellowship hall during special events and meetings.
For many years roses have been the symbol of God at work. An elegant flower with its layering petals, the rose begins as a bud and opens into a beautiful blossom that signifies how spiritual wisdom unfolds in a person’s life.
The rose is often associated with miracles and angels. Symbolic of love and beauty, it is one of the most popular flowers at weddings, but it has also been associated with war and politics.
Roses have a long and colorful history in both ancient and modern times. Men and women alike have loved, planted and tended rose gardens, often presenting their prize roses for competition. There are festivals and parades honoring the rose and even a football stadium named after the rose.
Central’s rose garden was originally established in 1968 by members John and Carolyn Shinn in memory of John’s father Kenneth Shinn who loved roses and had tended a rose garden at his own home. The congregation soon joined the loving memorial and added new bushes to honor their loved ones. The original garden contained hy-brid tea roses and was cared for by members of the congregation.
As years passed, and there were fewer members able to cultivate and care for the garden, the roses withered. In 2010, Central member and organic gardener, Russell Church, re-planted the garden with Earth-Kind roses, many of which are old garden variety.
“Earth-Kind” is a special designation given to select roses by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service through the Earth-Kind landscaping program. It is based on the results of extensive research and field trials and is awarded only to those roses demonstrating superior pest tolerance, combined with outstanding landscape performance.
While the planting of the Earth-Kind rose resulted in a garden for Central that required a little less care and cultivation, it still needs tending by God’s helping hands.
Several members of Central gathered in the garden Saturday morning prepared to prune the bushes and weed the bed. Some of the bushes were experiencing Rose Rosette Disease. To prevent farther spreading of the virus, often attributed to hot dry summers, pruning shears were rinsed in peroxide between using from bush to bush.
Church explained that Earth-Kind roses could handle extensive pruning and the bushes could be taken down to generally speaking “about knee-high.”
The garden may currently look bare, but it is expected that spring will produce another crop of colorful, showy blooms. And as Robert Frost said in Gods Garden “keep the pathway open that leads you on to heaven.”