Schenectady’s Rose Garden has been voted one of the top 10 in the country, beating out about 120 other public rose gardens.
“It’s a little mind-blowing,” said Rose Garden Restoration Committee President Matt Cuevas when he heard the news. “You think of our little garden in Schenectady competing with the big, well-known gardens … I think it’s an amazing testament to the work of all our volunteers.”
All-America’s Rose Selections held a contest to determine which of its 130 certified gardens is the best. The first round was a public vote, which is where the Central Park Rose Garden excelled.
Now experts will decide which of the top 10 deserves the honor of being No. 1. The final ranking will be announced on Aug. 12.
Schenectady won’t make the final cut, Cuevas thinks.
“It’s a little too much to hope for,” he said, ticking off a quick list of what he considers the best public rose gardens in the country. “I’m just happy to be in the top 10.”
But after a moment to come to terms with the surprising news, he added that Schenectady deserves its ranking.
“We’re a true public garden,” he said. “Many of the other gardens aren’t necessarily open to the public.”
And the volunteers have done far more than simply nurse the 4,000 rose bushes to health. In the past three years, they’ve raised the money to restore the pond — which had been severely damaged — and built a stone entranceway.
Both have become popular spots for photographs. The entranceway, with its sweeping steps, has also caught the attention of many who apparently never noticed the garden before.
“All too often, for too many people, the garden was hidden from view,” Cuevas said. “The staircase calls attention — stop, see what’s going on here.”
The Rose Garden Restoration Committee plans to restore the fountains by next summer, bringing back the last piece of the original garden.
Volunteers took over in 1995 when the garden deteriorated due to a lack of city funding. The fountains were in such bad condition that they had to be ripped out. It was an open question as to whether the rose bushes themselves would survive.
Fifteen years later, the garden is considered one of the best in the country.
Contest spokesman Joe Foster, who confirmed that the garden was ranked in the top 10, said the final rankings will be based primarily on expert assessments of the roses themselves. Since the roses have won multiple awards, they may do well in the assessment.
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