Gardening Articles: Flowers :: Roses

Sue Casey: Remember Me Rose Gardens

by Charlie Nardozzi

Sue Casey

Sue Casey of Portland, Oregon, wanted to do something to help the country heal after the September 11th terrorist attacks in 2001. Her inspiration came two weeks after the attacks while sitting in her car in her church's parking lot. She looked out the window and saw a beautiful rose bush blooming. That's when the idea hit her. Roses are the national flower and a symbol of love. Why not plant public rose gardens at each of the September 11th crash sites as a living tribute to the brave souls that lost their lives there? The words "remember me" came to her, and she decided to call her effort the "Remember Me" Rose Gardens.

Sue's goal of creating rose gardens in New York City; Washington, DC; and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, is simple, profound, and based on her appreciation of the power of gardening. With a full-time job, kids, and pets, life can get stressful. "Gardening is such a release for me," she says. "When I'm upset I can go to the garden and relax. It's much better for me than reaching for the ice cream or chocolate," she adds.

Sue wants those who visit the "Remember Me" Rose Gardens at each crash site to have an experience similar to the one she has in her garden. She's even proposing that relatives of loved ones who died at the sites be given a bouquet of roses to take home in summer. Since hundreds of bodies were never recovered from the sites, the roses would be something tangible victims' families can take away as a remembrance of their loved ones.

Although there has been much red tape involved in getting permission to build the gardens, Sue, rosarian Michael Mitchell (vice president and East Coast representative), and her volunteer board have started test plots in New York City and Shanksville to trial various rose varieties, and are intimately involved in park planning at all the sites.

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