The Durango Botanical Society (DBS) was founded by a woman. The DBS board of directors is almost entirely comprised of women. On any given Saturday morning in the spring, summer, and fall dozens of DBS women can be found tending to the Durango Botanic Gardens surrounding the Durango Public Library. It’s only natural, then, that DBS’s newest partnership is with another group of can-do men and women, the National Spirit of ’45/Rosie the Riveter Memorial Rose Gardencampaign, an organization dedicated to recognizing the contributions and influence of women in American society through that cultural icon of World War II, Rosie the Riveter. (Be sure to see photos below.)
On Saturday, September 14, 2019 the Durango arm of the Spirit of ’45 officially dedicated a new rose garden in a section of the Durango Botanic Gardens near the new Mountain Thyme Society Sundial. The rose garden, currently comprised of five Floribundarose plants, was planted-by and will be maintained by a team of Spirit of ’45 volunteers, including four Master Gardeners certified by Darrin Parmenter, director, CSU Extension Office. Speakers said the garden will remind and reflect upon the contributions and influence ofwomen in the WWII war effort; it will also act as a reminder to current and future generations of young women that they have more social and cultural power than they might imagine.
Approximately 25 people, including Durango Mayor Melissa Youssef, Chair of the LaPlata County Board of Commissioners Julie Westendorff, DBS President John Anderson, local girl scouts, and gardeners joined in the dedication event. The ceremony was led by Judy Winzell, Co-Chair along with husband Jim Winzell, of the National Spirit of ’45 and Rosie the Riveter Memorial Garden of Colorado Congressional District 3. The Spirit of ’45 Durango is described as a coalition of organizations that currently includes the Durango Public Library, DBS, Durango Girl Scouts, Colorado Girl Scouts, Blue Star Mothers, the Durango Herald, and a number of local businesses and individuals.
Judy Winzell says the goal of the Rosie the Riveter program project is to have a “Rosie” garden located in every congressional district in the United States. Durango is the second city in Colorado to establish a garden, the other located in Fort Collins. A third garden is planned for the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
John Anderson, president of DBS, said in his dedication remarks that DBS believes strongly in the transformational power of gardens. That is why, he added, when Judy and Jim Winzell approached DBS with their idea for a Rosie rose garden,the board of directors was delighted to make the space available for the Rosie garden.
There are other, personal connections between DBS and Rosie the Riveter. Noelle Bryant, currently a sophomore at Durango High School, is the granddaughter of one of DBS’s most steadfast volunteers, Gail Lauter. When attending Miller Middle School Noelle produced a project for National History Day with Rosie the Riveter as her focus. Noelle won special distinction for her work, which culminated in a performance, with Noelle portraying a WWII factory worker. She won a regional competition and then represented Miller Middle School in the state finals in Denver, the first time the school had a student reach that level. Noelle says the project helped her gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the role women played in the WWII war effort as well as the central role they continue to play in our society.
Upper left, Judy Winzell leads garden celebrants in flexing "Rosie" muscle; upper right, Winzell greets a local "Rosie," Shelly Hartney. Below left, the Rose Garden team, (l-r), Sara Carver, Winzell, Katie Killinen, Al Springer, Maddy Marquardt, and Jim Lyman. Below right, Noelle Bryant presents her award-winning characterization of Rose the Riveter. (Click on any photo above to enlarge)