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Earth Notes: Prescott Rose Garden

A yellow rose blooming in the Territorial Women's Rose Garden at the Sharlot Hall Museum.
Melissa Sevigny
A yellow rose blooming in the Territorial Women's Rose Garden at the Sharlot Hall Museum.

June is the month for roses and the Territorial Women’s Rose Garden in Prescott has nearly 300 varieties. Almost every bush in the garden is a different kind of rose. Collectively they honor the women who lived in and helped shape the Arizona territory before it became a state.

A memorial rose garden was proposed in 1938, but the first roses weren’t planted until a decade later, at the territorial Governor’s Mansion on the grounds of the Sharlot Hall Museum.

Among the roses is a deep pink variety brought to Prescott in 1865 by Margaret Hunt McCormik, the wife of the second territorial governor. It might be the first cultivated rose in Arizona. A cutting from that rosebush was gifted to Northern Arizona University’s arboretum in the 1930s, and another cutting recently made its way back to Prescott, allowing the rosebush to flourish for over 150 years.

McCormick is one of more than 500 women honored by the garden. The list includes schoolteachers, storekeepers, ranchers, miners, artists, writers and cooks. Included are a Yavapai basket maker, Viola Jimulla who fought to secure land for her people; a German immigrant, Fannie Kautz, who formed a local theatrical society in Prescott; and a painter, Kate Cory, who depicted the ordinary lives of Hopis.

Summer visitors to the garden will see roses blooming in every hue of red, pink, yellow and orange. It’s an alluring combination of history and botany and a tribute to the women of the past.

This Earth Note was written by Melissa Sevigny and produced by KNAU and the Sustainable Communities Program at Northern Arizona University.

Melissa joined KNAU's team in 2015 to report on science, health, and the environment. Her work has appeared nationally on NPR and been featured on Science Friday. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert.
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