The Magee House Rose Garden in Carlsbad, CA
In the Fall-Winter of 1996/97 the California Coastal Rose Society undertook with the City of Carlsbad a renovation of the old rose garden at the Magee House . The flower beds and rose gardens had been designed and put in place by the city in the mid 1970s. The society had been meeting monthly in Heritage Hall in Magee Park for a number of years and proposed free ongoing rental use of the facility in exchange for the society renovating, planting and maintaining the old rose garden in future years. Marianne and Charlie Thurston and Joe Smith were active members at the time and actually did most of the work. Roses were solicited and received from a California grower. About 2 to 3 dozen new roses were added to a few older remnant bushes in the garden.
As the bushes were leafing out in the Spring of 1997 Ivy Bodin retired to Vista California from Louisiana , joined the CCRS and asked to be allowed to supervise the maintainence of the garden. He led the CCRS volunteers through 5 years of garden maintenance adding a significant number of roses to the two part garden . With a special interest in heritage roses he added many of these varieties and created a separate garden of heritage and shrub roses to represent many varieties of rose classes. He also enhanced the separate modern rose garden, adding classic varieties of Hybrid Teas and Floribundas as well as minis and polyanthas to the collection. He, other CCRS members and the general public made rose bush contributions to the collection over those years.
In conjunction with the Carlsbad Arboretum Foundation which gardened in the front of Magee House, CCRS worked with the other group to reclaim the abandoned flower beds surrounding the old historical house. Roses and other plants were added and as well roses were added to the old Red Barn behind the house in the park.
In 2001 the collection came to represent about 121 varieties of rose bushes in the Modern and Old rose/Shrub rose gardens up from an original 40 or so. Fifteen rose families are represented with 26 Hybrid Teas, 4 Grandifloras, 24 Floribundas, 10 Miniatures, 7 Polyanthas, 13 Shrubs (including David Austin English garden roses), 8 Chinas, 6 Teas, 4 Species, 4 Rugosas, 4 Hybrid Musks, 4 Noisettes and 1 Moss, 1 Bourbon, 1 Portland, 1 Damask and 1 Alba .
At the end of 2002 Ivy retired as garden director at Magee and Brenda Pollock Landers assumed directorship, assisted greatly by Joe Smith an original member of the garden. She implemented a significant addition of a mini rose collection to the garden in an ideal location near the old house as there were only a few bushes in the collection previously. After a year Brenda retired her directorship and Bob Woelffer assumed garden director duties in 2004 where he has continued to lead CCRS in garden maintenance. With the collection in place Bob additionally has been very instrumental in publicizing and utilizing the garden to welcome new members and interested public in the culture of the rose with monthly activities in the garden scheduled year long.
As a point of information to show the context of Magee Rose Garden, the historical Magee house sits one block from the ocean. In 1886 when it was built, the view was unparalleled. Now some newer houses have claimed the front row by the Pacific. The Craftsman cottage was built from pre-cut lumber, ordered from a mid-Western catalog of pre-designed homes. It is still standing today . When its owner, Florence Shipley Magee died , she left the house and land(about 5 acres) in 1974 to the City of Carlsbad to be used as a park and historical museum . The house is now used by the Carlsbad Historical Society .
Today on Saturdays, kids learn karate on the north end of the park. Meetings and activities happen in the Heritage Hall. Dog owners learn obedience training on the eastern section. The Arboretum Society grooms the annuals and perennials out front...some of which are California natives, and the California Coastal Rose Society grooms the rose gardens on the western side of the old house.
The Magee House has been recently repainted and repaired and glows with all the newly maintained color of plants at its sides. This is a worthwhile stop on the Coast Highway 101 for anyone interested in history and plants, to experience one of Carlsbad villages’ oldest structures only one block from the ocean floor in a beautiful park setting.
Ivy Bodin - January 2006