Comstock's magazine 0519 - May 2019 - Page 55

PHOTOS: MIKE GRAFF “About six or seven years ago, we were looking to build a permanent art installation that would be a place of beau- ty and healing and would bring the community together,” says Grupe director Sandy Huber. While in Sacramento for a meeting, Huber found her inspiration: The State Capitol rose garden was in full bloom and messages of peace writ- ten by schoolchildren were scattered throughout. She was moved by the beauty of the place and what the children wanted for their families and their world. The Stockton garden is part of the California-based non- profit International World Peace Rose Garden project, the brainchild of TJ David and Sylvia Villalobos, whose goal is to create artistically designed rose gardens that help trans- form ordinary community spaces into vibrant, beautiful places for peace. Huber contacted the pair and was given permission to create a sister garden to the Martin Luther King Jr. “I Have a Dream” World Peace Rose Garden in At- lanta. Both gardens share a theme of peace through nonvio- lence. In the Stockton garden, 240 roses are planted in a sun-shaped design with the peace plaza at the center and rows of roses jutting out from the core like rays of sunshine; smaller f lower beds tucked between the rays represent the orbiting planets. The roses were nurtured for a year at the Huber’s family farm in Lodi (husband Kevin Huber is presi- dent of Grupe) so they could be transferred to University Park in April 2016 as mature, blooming f lowers. “Keeping the plants in 10-gallon buckets for that first year helped us create an instant garden,” says designer TJ David. “The idea is to have as many blooms as possible for as long as possible.” Sacramento landscape architect Jeffrey Gamboni created the working drawings for the project. In addition to the roses, University Park participates in the inspirational messages of peace contest with local school- children. The top winners have their messages engraved on plaques and displayed in the garden for one year. “Through this program, we are enhancing peace in the world by us- ing rose gardens to open people’s hearts and minds,” says Villalobos. n Laurie Lauletta-Boshart is a contributing writer and editor for consumer publications, Fortune 500 companies, small business and higher education. She has written for Dwell, ESPN, Wall Street Journal, (Sports Illustrated) and others. On Twitter @laurieboshart or May 2019 | 55