No. 39: Morcom Amphitheater of Roses

Hybrid tea rose "Gentle Giant"

The hybrid tea rose “Gentle Giant” has saucer-sized blooms.

“Roses are beauty, but I never see/ those blood drops from the burning heart of June/ glowing like thought upon the living tree/ without a pity that they die so soon.” —John Masefield, 1878-1967.

The Bay Area may be cruel to rose lovers in some respects: The same gentle climate that rarely sends the canes into true dormancy can also be kind to diseases like blight and rust. On the other hand, with  modern varieties, rosarians easily extend June’s burning heart through late summer.

And even though the first day of fall was Thursday, the Morcom Amphitheater roses were still glowing like thought today. The formal beds are grouped by kind and color, which can range from the traditional yellows, whites and reds to a pale orchid-pink with bronze-edged buds (“Love Potion”). My favorites are the more showy mixtures — like “Gentle Giant” or “First Kiss.”

Mother of the Year walk

Tree roses and formal beds flank the Mother of the Year Walk.

I made a figure eight through the garden, taking in both the lower beds and those at the head of the cascade. You could extend your walk along Jean Street and Wildwood Avenue, or climb the stairs to the rear of the amphitheater and walk along Monte Vista Avenue.

Getting there: The amphitheater is at 700 Jean Street, about a block from Grand Avenue.

Cool stuff nearby: The Grand Lake Ace Hardware garden center, at Jean and Grand, has a nice selection of native plants. There are also numerous restaurants, cafes and businesses along Grand.

More information: From the Friends of the Morcom Rose Garden.

Accessibility note: The bottom of the Rose Garden bowl is paved and accessible from Jean Street. Access to the upper tiers involves steps or steep grades.

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