Enjoy the roses at May 20 event

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The roses are expected to put on a flowery show for this year’s Sunday in the Rose Garden on May 20.

The annual event is from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Wilson Rose Garden at 1800 Herring Ave., at the city Operation Center.

Visitors are invited to tour the garden and to enjoy the colors and the fragrance of more than 1,200 rose plants.

Sunday in the Rose Garden includes music, refreshments, a martial arts demonstration and rose care advice.

The annual art contest is another big draw. Local artists are invited to set up an easel and create a work of art that reflects the garden. Those attending the event enjoy watching works of art as they develop on the canvases.

Artists can set up as early as 1 p.m. on the day of the show. Artwork cannot be started before that time. Judging is around 3:30 p.m.

Categories are divided by age: ages 5-7, 8-12, 13-17 and 18 and up.

The first-place winners receive a small cash prize.


This year’s event is dedicated to the memory of the late Rufus Swain, the driving force behind the rose garden. Swain died in February.

Swain first developed the rose garden at the Wilson County Public Library in 1986. In 1994, Wilson City Council approved the development of the Wilson Rose Garden at the Operations Center.

Over the next few years, Swain raised money to purchase the roses and the artwork that adorns the gardens.

The well-maintained garden, with more than 180 varieties of roses received the coveted All-American Rose Selection Public Gardens designation.

The rose garden has become a popular destination for local residents as well as tourists. 

Many couples go to the gardens for prom photos and engagement photos. Others have gotten married in the gardens, among the pink, red, yellow and coral blooms.


Local residents volunteer to help out at the garden, “deadheading” spent blooms. If you are interested in helping out with this effort, call Becky Rose at 252-245-4440.

Brick pavers can also be purchased for $100 to honor those who have died. The pavers are placed in the brick walkway.

Rose said to contact board members to purchase a paver.

The board is headed by Gerald Donovan, chairman; Becky Rose, vice-chair; Lisa Shreve, treasurer; and Willlie McClain, secretary. Board members include Kent Montgomery, Matt Shaw, Betty McCain, Jackie Dale and Lu Glover.