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Rose garden blooms for Memorial Day

Marika Reiner is driving force behind Veterans Memorial Rose Garden.

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Marika Reiner holds a rose from her own garden as the bushes in the Veterans Memorial Rose Garden neared their first season's bloom this month.The way her husband tells it, Marika Reiner stopped Mayor Denny Doyle at the 2015 Memorial Day at Veterans Memorial Park with a blunt question.

“By the way, sir, why not Beaverton has a rose garden?” Bela Reiner said, recalling his wife’s words in a Hungarian accent both share.

Doyle responded with something to the effect: Why don’t you build one?

“And that’s the whole story of the start of this thing,” Bela Reiner said with a motion that takes in the brand new Veterans Memorial Rose Garden.

The roses hadn’t yet blossomed on a blustery day in mid-May, but Marika Reiner all but promised the newly planted roses will cooperate by the time the park hosts its annual Memorial Day rites this Monday.

“All it needs now is just a couple of nice sunny days,” she said, nearly two months after overseeing the planting by Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District staff. She cleared the plan with the city, THPRD and the American Legion Beaverton Post 124.

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Marika Reiner asked Mayor Denny Doyle why Beaverton didn't have a rose garden. His response: make one.Marika Reiner knows roses. The 80-year-old accountant, who is mostly retired, is past president of the Portland Rose Society and takes care of 120 rose bushes at her Beaverton home.

“I will be the one who will supervise the taking care of the (park’s) roses,” said Reiner, who expects help from other Portland Rose Society members and perhaps more gardening enthusiasts.

Most of the park’s 75 roses are at the sharp point of the triangular park, where Southwest Watson and Washington avenues slant together. They replaced bedding plants that had to be changed out regularly, Reiner said, so the roses will save money in the long run.

The majority of the bushes are the Let Freedom Ring variety, with bright red blooms. Others include Sugar Moon, Pretty Lady and one appropriately named Memorial Day that produces giant lavender-pink flowers. More Let Freedom Ring roses as well as a variety named Firefighter also were planted near the center of the park.

Reiner said that California-based Weeks Roses, one of the nation’s top rose growers, donated all the bushes after she contacted regional manager Chris Pruitt. The company’s cultivator, Tom Carruth, developed some of the varieties, Reiner added.

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - The buds in the new Veterans Memorial Rose Garden are ready to show off for Memorial Day and throughout summer.Reiner got her introduction to roses as a girl in Hungary, where her grandfather had a winery. The practice there was to plant a rose bush at the end of each row of grapes in the vineyard because the roses were susceptible to the same diseases as the grapevines and helped signal when extra treatment might be necessary.

Reiner moved to the U.S. at 19 years old, after Russia crushed the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. But her love affair with the prickly plants really took off after they moved to Oregon in the early 1990s. Her husband bought her a gift membership to the Portland Rose Society, which dates back to the late 1800s.

“Since then everything is roses,” Bela Reiner said.


The new rose garden will be celebrated early Monday afternoon, following the Memorial Day rites at 11 a.m.

Reiner said that a special wreath bearing a rose in honor of an American Legion member who died in the past year will be presented on Monday. Judy Fleck, another past president of the Portland Rose Society, is making the wreath.

Members of The Royal Rosarians also plan to join veterans for the day’s ceremonies, Reiner said.

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Roses line the point where Southwest Watson and Washington streets join together in Beaverton.

By Eric Apalategui
Beaverton Reporter
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