Capaha Rose Display Garden

Whenever I think of the Capaha Rose Display Garden across from Cherry Hill, I think of Gladys Stiver, so I asked her granddaughter, Shari, to fill me in on the place.

Here’s what she sent me:

What most folks call the Capaha Rose Garden was the 1953 brainchild of best friends and demon gardeners Arla Harris and Gladys Stiver.

By 1955, they’d founded what was officially called the Rose Display Garden at the northwest corner of Capaha Park, and by sometime in the 1960’s had managed to get the garden certified as a Rose Test Garden by the AARS, the All-America Rose Selections, a national society which tests all new roses and selects annual winners in a variety of categories. In the garden world, this is a really big deal.

AARS Test Garden

There are only 10 gardens nationwide now certified by the AARS as test gardens, and in the 1970’s there were only about 135. Very fitting for The City of Roses and a huge achievement back then for the local garden clubs.

The Garden has always been maintained by the volunteers from the various garden clubs making up what was then the Cape Girardeau Council of Garden Clubs, with each club assuming responsibility for a number of the up to 42 beds in the garden.

Slave labor, however, has also always been welcome, and I spent most Saturday mornings of my childhood weeding beds and deadheading spent blooms under the critical eye of my grandmother, Gladys “Ike” Stiver, who rewarded these efforts with a banana split at Sunny Hill Restaurant. In the 1950’s, when I worked there, competition among garden clubs to maintain the plants and beds was fierce.


9 Replies to “Capaha Rose Display Garden”

  1. Mrs. Stiver Sr. was an icon, another permanent resident of Cape Woe-Be-Gone. The Rose Garden was but one of her activities.

    In the late 50’s or early 60’s vandals attacked and almost completely destroyed the garden using baseball bats. How the police determined the weapon is a wonder as they never caught the culprits. The fact that the flowers still exist is a testament to Mrs. Stiver and her fellow rose lovers’ resolve.

  2. [i]The Rose Display Garden and SEMO U
    Capaha Park and Cape Rock, too.
    We dig it![/i]

    I married a Texas gal a few years back and started to bring her to Cape with me on visits to family. Visiting the Rose Display Garden is one of her favorite things to do when she visits. Is there a way to donate a little cash to help out the volunteers responsible for the upkeep?

  3. For Mark Rutledge: The Cape Girardeau Council of Garden Clubs would be thrilled to have a donation for the upkeep of the Rose Garden. There are three garden clubs in town who still maintain the garden with the assistance of the Park department. You may send donation care of Margaret Lents, treasurer, at 3030
    Kenneth Drive, Cape 63701.
    The Council is also planning a walkway in the garden using granite pavers that may be engraved to honor or remember someone. I can have that info sent also.

  4. when my family first move to cape one of the first thins we did (1957) was to visit the rose garden. when i moved to az. 26years ago, the first place i visited was about 6 blocks from my huse in glendale. saquaro park, with its beautiful rose garden, they had just put in the “challenger” roses name after the space shuttle, it had blown up on launch earlier that year, the smell brought back sooooo many menories of cape the place i called home.

  5. i was in the rose garden today 4-24-2012 and fell in love with a very fragrent full fluffy peach colored rose to the left towards the back of the statue in the above pic here on your page they were in front of the wooden bench back there and was wondering if you could please tell me what they are there is a sign there that says easy does it. Please help me to id these roses they are so beautiful and fragrent

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