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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Desert rose blooms in Tombstone


    Courtesy of Penny Germain

    A stagecoach from C&C Auto rolls by during the 2014 Tombstone Rose Festival. This year’s festival will feature a pancake breakfast beneath the blooming rose tree.

    It might seem odd to some that in the midst of the Sonoran Desert, there is a rose tree, thriving and growing each year since before the founding of the state of Arizona. For local Tombstone residents, it’s just a normal, everyday thing to wake up to in their backyard.

    Since its planting in 1885, the Tombstone Rose Tree, otherwise known as the “Shady Lady” of the Rosa Banksiae family, is celebrating its 130th blossoming this weekend in all its white rose glory.

    The blossoming only happens once a year, according to Penny Germain, the coordinator of the Tombstone Rose Festival. The property has been in the family of Dorothy Devere and her husband Burt Devere for almost 100 years, located at the former boarding house/hotel that is now a museum.

    “It was awesome,” Germain said about her first time seeing the Rose Tree.

    Ron Steiner, an employee at the Tombstone Rose Museum, said the origins of the tree species trace back to China, where it was then taken to England in World War II and then further up to Scotland. It came to Arizona via a Scottish woman named Mary Gee and her husband, who moved to Tombstone for the mining industry. 

    “I thought it’s amazing that [the tree] is still hanging in there, still growing,” Steiner said. “When I started eight years ago they used to water it once a week, just flood it and do it in one night. Now it takes two nights — it’s expanded that much that they have to double the time it takes to water it.”

    Today, according to Germain, the rose tree covers about 9,000 square feet and provides a good amount of shade with the foliage that is trimmed every year. 

    The festival for the tree’s blossoming will kick off under the tree at 6 p.m. on Friday. It will be followed by a pancake breakfast from 7-10 a.m. under the tree the next day, hosted by the Tombstone Community Church.

    Other events scheduled for the weekend are the Thunder Mountain Twirlers Square Dance, Mariachi Apache, the Rose Parade at 1 p.m. on Saturday, the Tombstone Animal Shelter Pet Parade as well as Vigilante skits. In other parts of the year, weddings and similar events take place under the tree in the courtyard.

    Steiner said he hopes that people will be able to see the Rose Tree in all its glory.

    Meanwhile, Germain said that she hopes people will experience the “softer side of Tombstone” that is different from the usual things that one might expect of the town from its spooky namesake and stereotypes seen in movies. She added that there is more to Tombstone than its film persona, and it is filled with history, waiting to be explored by visitors.

    So if you ever wanted to dine while surrounded by the beguiling aroma of roses just a few hours away from your own desert oasis, Tombstone may be your destination this weekend.


    Follow Ivana Goldtooth on Twitter.

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