A rose by the name China Altman
China Altman founded the Rose Brigade, a dedicated group of volunteer rose-keepers, 30 years ago, and she has tended to the rose beds of the Public Garden every Tuesday summer evening since.
Now, a part of Altman will never leave that fragrant spot.
To commemorate the group’s anniversary and its founder, the Friends of the Public Garden commissioned a hybrid rose to be named the China Altman and officially dedicated it in her honor Tuesday evening.
“[China] has displayed fortitude, has displayed courage, sometimes in the face of the Boston Parks Department,” Department Commissioner Chris Cook said during the dedication, “and certainly on top of all of that has accomplished these beds, and making them beautiful, with a grace and with a generosity of spirit that is uncompromising.”
Attendees basked in the early evening sun, clad in sunglasses and occasion-appropriate floral prints. Passersby stopped, smiled, and removed headphones for a brief glimpse into the celebration.
“Great parks need great people, and there is no one greater than what China Altman has done for us for 30 years,” Cook said. “The Boston Parks and Recreation Department, the City of Boston, is eternally grateful. We couldn’t be happier than to be here to celebrate this China Altman rose that will be in these beds, hopefully forever.”
Rose Brigade alumni returned to the beds for the ceremony, and hybridizer Ping Lim flew in from San Diego to formally present his new breed and, he said, to see his work become a part of Boston’s beauty.
But a rose breeder, Lim said, is nothing without a rose lover like Altman.
“We have to yank her out of here when the sun’s going down on Tuesday nights,” Brigade co-leader Carl Foster said.
A dedicated rose is a fitting honor for Altman, Foster said, because without her the beds would be filled with “petunias or daylilies” instead.
“It’d be beautiful,” he said, “but it wouldn’t be roses.”
Celeste Day, a five-year volunteer with the Brigade, praised Altman’s dedication and knowledge of roses — knowledge Altman said she taught herself through hours of research at the Boston Public Library.
“She knows each plant individually, and knows what the variety is, when it was planted, everything,” Day said. “It’s incredible. She’s incredible.”