Sue's goal of creating rose gardens in New York City; Washington, DC; and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, is simple, profound, and based on her appreciation of the power of gardening. Life can get stressful when you're operating a nonprofit organization on top of handling a full-time job, kids, and pets. "Gardening is such a release for me," she says. "When I'm upset I can go to the garden and relax. It's much better for me than reaching for the ice cream or chocolate."
Sue wants those who visit the "Remember Me" Rose Gardens at each crash site to have an experience similar to the one she has in her garden. She is particularly motivated to help the children of the victims recover from their loss. She's even proposing that visiting relatives of loved ones who died at the sites be given a bouquet of roses to take home. Since hundreds of bodies were never recovered from the sites, the roses would be something tangible victims' families can take away as a remembrance of their loved ones.
Soon after "Remember Me" Rose Gardens got started, rose breeders and growers came forward to help raise money to maintain the gardens. Nine roses will be named in honor of the victims of September 11th, and a percentage of the sales will be set aside to fund the gardens. The first rose in the series, 'Firefighter', was introduced in 2003. It's a fragrant, red hybrid tea rose named in honor the 343 firefighters who lost their lives on that day. A second rose, 'Soaring Spirits', bred by Tom Carruth at Weeks Roses, was released in September, 2004. This cream, pink, and yellow climber is dedicated to those who worked in the Twin Towers in New York. Both roses are available through Edmunds Roses (www.edmundsroses.com).
Though she estimates spending 3 to 4 hours a day working on "Remember Me" Rose Gardens, often early in the morning or late at night after her family has gone to bed, Sue's energy for the project rises from the immense joy that she originally experienced when the idea for "Remember Me" Rose Gardens first came to her. "I feel it's a gift that was entrusted to me to bring to fruition. The joy is with me every day, through the ups and downs of life. I am truly the happiest when I am working on this project," she says.
For more information on this project, please visit the "Remember Me" Rose Gardens Web site.
Gardening isn't just an enjoyable hobby - it supports a healthy lifestyle in a number of ways. It's a great form of exercise, it puts delicious, fresh foods right at your back door, and it can help restore degraded natural environments. Being around and working with plants also benefits a gardener's mental and emotional health. Many of us use our gardens as healing oases of relief from stressful lives and difficult times.
During National Garden Month we highlight individuals across the country who champion gardens as places for healing and comfort. Sue Casey of Portland, Oregon understands what gardens can do for our well being. After the tragic attacks of September 11th, 2001 she wanted to extend the peace and solace she feels in her garden to the nation. Her "Remember Me" Rose Garden project is her way to give a garden to all those who were touched by the disaster on that day. Here's her story.
Sue's inspiration came two weeks after the attacks while gazing at a rose bush blooming near her church's parking lot. That's when the idea hit her: Roses are the national flower and a symbol of love-why not plant public rose gardens at each of the September 11th crash sites as a living tribute to the brave souls that lost their lives there? In that moment, the words "remember me" came to her, and she decided to call her effort the "Remember Me" Rose Gardens.