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City Hall Roses Gone, But Not Forgotten

A new water feature will replace the Memorial Rose Garden in Santa Monica's Town Square. The rose bushes find new homes across the city.

There's no space for sweet-smelling red roses in .

The first phase of construction began Tuesday on the new park in front of City Hall. Its main feature will be a babbling fountain and runnel in the the former Memorial Rose Garden.

Get a glimpse of the new water feature by watching the video above this article.

The 52 ornamental perennials were uprooted this summer and distributed to local history buffs and botanists.

"They were gone in less than 18 minutes," said Julie Silliman, a staffer in the city's community and cultural services division.

They were dedicated by the Gold Star Mothers 81 years ago on Veterans Day to local military men and women, but had been planted at City Hall for years before as part of the regular landscaping. Before that, there was a big patch of daisies, Silliman said.

"A lot of people have gotten the idea that 52 roses was symbolic, but it was a landscaping choice by staff," said Silliman. "They were not the originals. Over the years the roses have died off and be replaced."

Landmarks Commissioner Roger Genser said he and his fellow board members tried to save the roses when the city was designing Town Square. He was among the dozens of people who scored a bush. He dug a hole and planted it at home.

"It’s the city’s loss, but my gain," he said.

Asked what type of rose he got, he responded, "an anonymous genetic rose, but I don't care—it's from City Hall."

In the garden's place, 52 water overlapping trays will be pieced together to form a fountain. Water will cascade away from City Hall toward Main Street and the future Palisades Garden Walk through a stream embedded into the walkway. 

The concrete curb of the garden perimeter will be replaced, but the brick inlay  outlining the garden will be removed and referenced with a scoreline in the concrete. 

With help from the Gold Star Mothers, the city will install a new plaque at the fountain to remind passersby of the roses.

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SantaMonicaNative September 07, 2012 at 08:42 PM
I am sure the homeless will be grateful for a lovely water feature to bathe in. Why did they need to be pulled up? Couldn't they have incorporated the roses into Their plan. (whomever they might be) It seems a segment of Santa Monica will not be satisfied until every last tradition is eliminated.

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