cemetery roses


Join Rose Brigade Founder, Sandy Frary, each Friday morning beginning May 24, 2013, from 11:00a.m. to 1:00p.m., and work beside her to care for and learn about the cemetery's amazing collection of vintage roses.  This spring, Sandy will be tending the older, larger roses growing throughout the cemetery, which have survived for decades.


The Rose Brigade— Overseers of Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery’s Vintage Roses

Mark your Calendars!

2013 Vintage Rose Tour and Rose Sale
Discover an extraordinary collection of old and rare roses, which are thriving in Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery’s Memorial Rose Grove. Have you ever seen a Hybrid Kordesii, a Centifolia or a Hybrid Rugosa? Here in the Memorial Rose Grove, you will see roses from these unique categories, as well as roses from more familiar categories such as Tea,  Hybrid Tea and Floribunda.  

Join a docent-led tour through the Memorial Rose Grove and learn about all the various categories of roses that share space in this unique vintage rose oasis.   

DATE: Saturday, May 4, 2013

TIME: Tours start at 10:00 a.m., leaving every 20 minutes until 11 a.m. (Franklin Avenue Gate) Tours are FREE. 

Bonus: Vintage Rose Sale
Roses, which have been propagated from roses growing in Santa Rosa Rural

Cemetery and other old cemeteries throughout Sonoma County, will be sold in one, two and four gallon containers. Companion plants will also be sold, and a silent auction of rose themed memorabilia will be held. In addition, scrumptious refreshments will be available. 

A Brief History
Roses have always been part of the Rural Cemetery landscape. For decades, people planted roses (the kind our gr eat grandmothers’ grew) at grave sites in memory of departed loved ones. 

Up until the early 1900’s, there was a water system fed by a pump to a cistern, and at least some regular maintenance. Many roses were established in those early days, and some survived the period of neglect that ran from the early 1900’s to 2007.   

By the spring of 2007, thirty roses remained. But it wasn’t until cuttings from some of the roses were propagated and sold at the cemetery’s “Flora and Fauna Tour” in 2007 that the public took notice of the collection of vintage roses growing there. Today, thanks to re-populating efforts of members of THE ROSE BRIGADE, a group of volunteers who oversee the roses now call Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery their home.

Memorial Rose Garden
On Saturday, November 13, 2010, members & friends of THE ROSE BRIGADE planted a Memorial Rose Grove of 70 vintage roses in the large meadow area to the north of the Franklin Avenue entrance.   

The Memorial Rose Grove, which was designed by Vintage Rose Expert, Gregg Lowery, is dedicated to the memory of unknowns believed to be buried in the meadow AND to the memory of victims of the 1906 earthquake, many of whom are buried throughout the cemetery and in a mass grave at the foot of meadow. 

In October 2011, a gravel walking path through the Rose Grove was added, and in the summer of 2012, a drip irrigation system was installed throughout the Grove--the first irrigation system in the cemetery since the 1800’s! And as of November 2012, the rose population in the Grove has increased to 100. 

The Legend of the White Moss Rose
We had heard that decades ago, a White Moss rose had grown in Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery. The legend of the white Moss rose was documented by a woman who last year presented Rose Brigade member, Judy Enochs, with a bloom from a White Moss rose, which she said she propagated from a cutting of a rose growing in the Rural c emetery decades ago.  

Well, guess what! (a drum roll, please), we are thrilled to report that the legend of a white Moss rose is no longer just a legend. While walking her dog in the Rural Cemetery several months ago, Judy Enochs made an astonishing discovery--she discovered the legendary white Moss rose with an open bloom and several buds. 

Now you are probably wondering, how can this be?  After all, we know all the roses growing in the Rural Cemetery. Well, we were aware of a small rose growing in the Eastern Half Circle, but it was continually accidentally weed-whacked down by the maintenance crew, so we had never seen it bloom. Were we ever surprised to find it was the white Moss Rose all along!  

Last Stand for Historical Tea Rose, Devoniensis, In Rural Cemetery
Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery is the cemetery that Vintage Rose Expert, Greg Lowery, credits for returning the exquisite Tea rose, Devoniensis, back to the world. 

Greg says that Devonisnsis, which is reported to be the first Tea rose bred in England in 1838, and is often referred to as “one of the loveliest roses known,” had become lost to cultivation, until, that is, he found it growing 10-feet tall at a gravesite in Santa Rosa Rural Cem etery. Fortunately, Gregg took cuttings and was able to propagate the rose before it was cut back and died. He then sent the rose back to Europe, thus saving it from extinction.  

I have heard Gregg tell this story on more than one occasion, and it gives me goose bumps every time I hear it.


For more information about the cemetery roses and how to volunteer with THE ROSE BRIGADE, contact the City of Santa Rosa Recreation & Parks Department at 543-3292.



Consider offering a bit of your time to join THE ROSE BRIGADE, a group of volunteers who care for the Rural Cemetery’s extraordinary collection of vintage roses. Besides helping to care for and propagate the roses, members get to spend time learning about these living antiques with others who love old roses as much as you do. 

For information, call 543-3292 City of Santa Rosa Recreation and Parks Department

 Cemetery Rose Categories

  • Alba
  • Banksia
  • Bourbon/Hybrid Bourbon
  • China & Hybrid China
  • Damask
  • Eglantine
  • Floribunda
  • Hybrid Bracteata
  • Hybrid Multiflora
  • Hybrid Musk
  • Hybrid Perpetual
  • Tea and Hybrid Tea
  • Large Flowered Climber
  • Moss
  • Noisette/Hybrid Noisette
  • Polyantha
  • Portland
  • Rambler
  • Shrub Rose
  • Species/Wild Rose

"May roses remind you that life is beautiful."  —Gregg Lowery

 Gardening Tips

Gardeners Weed Identification Rule:

While weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. If it's stubborn, it's a weed.

Time spent tending roses will not be deducted from your life.