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April 7, 2010 > Pat Kite's Garden: Do you love roses?

Pat Kite's Garden: Do you love roses?

By Pat Kite

Rose Lovers never seem to have enough roses. Unlike the 400+ roses at the Niles Rose Garden in Fremont, most of us are limited to what we can squeeze into the sunny sections of our yard, patio or balcony. However a fabulous opportunity now exists.

Friends of Heirloom Flowers [FOHF] garden club, the same group that keeps the historic Shinn House panorama in shining shape, is now offering a new "Adopt-A-Plot" program for volunteers and volunteer groups. Individuals are welcome to bop into the Niles Rose Garden to work on a favored plot on Thursday mornings from 10-12, weeding, trimming and socializing alongside FOHF club members. What if you can't come on Thursday? Then for $20 smackaroos, you can join FOHF, and spiff at your leisure.

If you belong to a service group it's easy too. One service group member must join FOHF, and be at the Rose Garden when the others are working, sort of a guardian angel. You don't even have to bring your own tools: trowels, pruning shears, and rakes are available. You can stay an hour or the two hours. You can rest as you please. This is a fun project, at your leisure. And for those who like butterflies, there's a Butterfly Garden that also needs a smidge of polish.

Once upon a time, when the Tri-City wasn't so concrete, the Niles Rose Garden area was home to the California Nursery Company. Back in 1917, after purchase by George C. Roeding, it provided grape vines and fruit trees to California's expanding agricultural community. It eventually became a major retail site, the largest firm of its kind west of the Rockies. As many as 5,000 visitors, from all over the Bay Area, came on specialty flower show weekends. It was "the place" for gardeners to go.

Of course, things change. In 1972, the nursery grounds became a Fremont City Park. The name: California Nursery Historical Park. It now holds the Vallejo Adobe which can be rented for special occasions, a vegetable garden, cactus/succulent garden, butterfly garden, and, of course, the Niles Rose Garden. The address: 36501 Niles Blvd in Fremont. If you would like to check it out on the Internet:, or just type in California Nursery Historical Park.

For more information about the new Friends of Heirloom Flowers special "Adopt-a-Plot" program - call Joyce at (510) 659-9396 or Caryl at (510) 557-9246. Or request guidelines from Katie Smith at 40330 Monte Court, Fremont, CA 80918. And yes, Teen service groups are welcome with FOHF supervision.

As author Gertrude Stein once wrote, "A rose is a rose is a rose." And you can enjoy over 400 of them at the Niles Rose Garden.

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