photo CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 by twelves

The Morcom Rose Garden (originally the Oakland Municipal Rose Garden) is a lovely 7+ acre green oasis located on Jean Street, one block off Grand Avenue in Oakland, CA in the Grand Lake neighborhood. This public garden jewel is a 30s era formal rose garden surrounded by winding paths, graceful stairways, dramatic water features and enough natural habitat to attract and provide a sanctuary for a variety of birds, including hawks, as well as the neighbors who walk through it regularly. Recently accredited by the American Rose Society, the Morcom Rose Garden is an asset for all of Oakland.

On November 4, 1980, the Morcom Amphitheater of Roses was designated Oakland Landmark #45, under Zoning Case #LM 80-350.

The Rose Garden is location of the plaques for the annual Mother of the Year award.

Location

Oakland-Piedmont line between Oakland Avenue and Jean Street, Oakland, California

What you can do here

The garden is a great place to enjoy beauty, romance, and exercise.

There is also a woman who is often in the rose garden feeding squirrels, she can call them by name and they appear to respond. According to her it's a dog-free park (since it's a city of Oakland park, that's technically true; there are no dog signs at the main entrance.) There are also 2-3 wild turkeys that often hang out here.

History

Oakland Tribune 1932 1Before the rose garden, the area was Linda Vista Park. 1 It is thought (though not yet proven) that the area may have been used as a borrow pit for construction sometime before that.

The rose garden was originally called the Oakland Municipal Rose Garden. The amphitheater is one of the key design elements conceived by Arthur Cobbledick, the landscape architect who created the garden plan in the 1930s. Fortunately Arthur’s son Bruce Cobbledick, a garden activist in Oakland, donated the original garden drawings and his knowledge of the garden to fill out the garden’s history.

It began in 1932 as an inspiration of the Businessmen’s Breakfast Club. In response to a culture shaped by The Depression, the garden was designed to highlight the extravagant roses in formal gardens surrounded by a rugged natural setting. Mayor Fred Morcom planted the first rose in 1933. It was renamed in his honor by a unanimous vote of the Board of Park Directors in 1953, and a small plaque added to the dedication plaque in 1954.

For over eight decades the Morcom Rose Garden has offered Oakland a stimulating and restful place.

CC SA-BY Our Oakland

Key Facts

  • 1911-1915: Land identified and acquired by the City of Oakland used as open space
  • 1932: Inspiration for the Rose Garden from the Businessmen’s Garden Club, Dr. Charles Vernon Covell (president) and Arthur Cobbledick (club member and Landscape Architect), with color design from James Cobbledick (decorator) and Professor F.H. Meyer of the California School of Arts and Crafts
  • 1933: First rose planted by Mayor Fred Morcom
  • 1948: First modifications were made in a “re-work” by Parks Director William Penn Mott to remove lawn walks in the “Florentine oval” to streamline maintenance. The 1948 plan for this work has not been located.
  • 1954: Two “walks” were added: the Pioneer Walk along the top of the Florentine oval and the Mothers Walk between the reflecting pool and the Florentine oval. There were 125 climbing roses installed on the Pioneer Walk along a chain around the top of the overlook — none of these roses appear to remain. It isn’t clear from the documentation what constituted the Mothers Walk plantings. Today there are tree roses along the Mothers Walk (several are in need of replacement).
  • 50s: “Pride of Oakland” roses, a commercial test rose, were planted at the Wedding Terrace by Head gardener George Shiraki.
  • 1995: a major refurbishment and replanting was undertaken, guided by the East Bay Rose Society and Ed Wilkinson, a part-time parks employee and Rosarian. This work was accomplished with great respect for the original design.

Links and References

  1. Rose Park to be Built at Linda Vista Oakland Tribune June 5, 1932