The San Jose Municipal Rose Garden was placed on probation just five years ago by All-America Rose Selections, a nationwide association of rose growers. Yesterday,  it was named “America’s Best Rose Garden.”

It’s quite an achievement, considering that parks and gardens have been pruned in the budget during these difficult economic times.

City Councilmember Pierluigi Oliverio said, “I’m just ecstatic that we’ve gone from a park that was on probation—and frankly, with weeds taller than I am—to the number one rose garden in the U.S.”

Oliverio, whose district includes the garden, is one of the people most responsible for turning the site around. Just three years ago, he was prepared to outsource maintenance of the garden to a private contractor. The unions were inevitably upset, but so were local rose enthusiasts. Two of them, Terry Reilly and Beverly Rose Hopper, teamed up to found the Friends of the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden.

These weren’t just passive friends. Sure, they collected money, but they also collected volunteers—150 hours a week in volunteers—to come work at the garden, weeding whacking, pruning, and primping. It truly became a “community garden,” cared for and tended to by the community, no less than by the city itself.

This is reflected in the award citation, which praises the garden for its, “beauty” and “creativity,” but no less for its “overall contribution to the community.” One slight correction is probably necessary: the top rose garden in America today should be recognized for its “overall contribution to and from the community.”
Read More at the Mercury News.