NEW BRITAIN - The Friends of the Walnut Hill Park Rose Garden and a couple of dozen volunteers will be planting hundreds of rose bushes Saturday in preparation for spring and beyond.
The annual spring spruce-up starts at 9 a.m., with 25 to 30 volunteers planting more than 250 new bushes and cleaning leaves and debris that may have accumulated over the winter.
The goal is to have the plants blooming by the city’s annual Rose Garden Festival, on June 16, said Michelle Malinowski, board chairwoman of the Friends of the Walnut Hill Park Rose Garden.
The festival draws hundreds of people for an evening of music, food and wine among the roses.
“Two weeks prior to the festival, we’ll be weeding and ‘dead-heading,’” Malinowski said. “During the summer, our volunteers work on the garden Thursday evenings and one Saturday a month. We also encourage volunteers to come by when they are available, because not everyone can make Thursday evenings.”
The garden was created in 2010 as a way of restoring the previous Rose Garden, which was planted in 1929 but had become overgrown and had been plowed under by 2000.
Kate McCue, who spearheaded the project, and an army of volunteers replanted the garden and maintain it to this day, with more than 800 bushes featuring a variety of roses.
The color scheme includes roses that pay tribute to the war monument in the park, with varieties that include “Honor” and “Let Freedom Ring,” Malinowski said.
On Thursday afternoon, the Parks and Recreation Department was digging holes for the new bushes, which are soaking in buckets of water at New Britain Stadium.
Saturday’s spruce-up will be the first major replanting of rose bushes since the garden was created. “We’ve done other smaller replantings, but this will be the largest,” Malinowski said.
More volunteers are needed for Saturday’s planting, she said. They don’t have to be expert gardeners but they do need to be willing to beautify and plant under the direction of garden captains.
There is no need to register, she said, asking anyone interested to just show up wearing gardening clothes and bringing gardening tools if they have them.
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