Oakland is for lovers. Nothing affirms this more than spring in the Morcom Rose Garden. Sunken in a valley-like amphitheater at 700 Jean st. off of Grand Avenue, the rose garden is a floral oasis amidst the buzz of the city. This past Saturday, while strolling through the rows of well-cultivated and fragrant roses with my girl, we encountered a couple that had met there three years ago to the day (see gallery below). He had been there painting, she stopped to talk, and three years later they were telling us about their pending nuptials.
Built in 1937 by the WPA, the rose garden was maintained for many years by 12 gardeners. If you’re familiar with Oakland’s city budget, then you know that this is no longer the case. It is now largely dependent upon the dedicated service of local volunteers, with help from the city.
This DIY attitude is perhaps the most underappreciated character trait of The Town. Oakland’s city government is not known for doing much, and while this is indeed frustrating, it can also be empowering. When things need to get done Oaklanders know that it’s on them to act. The upkeep of the rose garden is by no means a guerrilla effort, but it is one dependent on the people.
Late April and early May are the best times to visit as the sun is out and the roses are in full bloom. This past weekend was particularly special because the annual Mother of the Year award was presented to former elementary school teacher and career volunteer Lisa Lemus. The honor has been bestowed annually upon an Oakland mother who represents the best of community service and motherhood since 1954. There is actually a plaque and a walkway in the garden dedicated to the cause (see gallery below). Read more about Lisa Lemus’s tremendous life and commitment to volunteerism in the Mercury News.
Make sure that you make time after work for a stroll with a loved one, a journal, a camera or a canvas. Oakland is a lot of things, but in spring, it’s a time for beauty and rejuvenation. The gallery (click photos to enlarge) below is comprised of photos from my instagram. If you’re interested in viewing Oakland through my lens, follow @coolhandlukas.