By David Markham
Work began in late August on major renovations to the Helen S. Cuddy Memorial Rose Garden, located near the entrance to Antioch Park, 6501 Antioch, Merriam.
“The project kicked off in late summer and will be fully complete early 2023,” said Project Manager Yolonda Guyton. “The rose garden holds a special place in many people’s hearts, so getting public feedback on the design concept was an important part of the design process. Based on the response from the public engagement efforts, patrons look forward to relaxing, walking their dogs, visiting the memorials, and revisiting where they were married.”
A major goal of the project is to improve accessibility and to bring it into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Planned renovations will include: improved accessible parking stalls; enhanced pedestrian flow throughout the garden for all visitors; additional seating areas, including benches; new roses, ornamental trees, and seasonal plantings; renovations to the existing gazebo; a new pergola structure; and an aesthetically pleasing small event space.
In order to renovate the garden, the existing roses, as well as the walkways, have been removed, and soil from the original beds will be reused in the new beds. North and south walkways will be close to where the walkways were located, but new zigzagging walkways through the garden have been added to let patrons get closer to the plantings. Because of ongoing maintenance concerns and to provide additional gathering space for patrons, the fountain and raised pool at the north end of the rose garden has been removed, and will be replaced with a pergola near the existing stone wall, and will include a cantilevered structure and additional seating.
The small event space will be at the existing gazebo, where part of the wood structure is being repaired, treated, or replaced. The area outside the gazebo can accommodate seating for events.
Planning for the rose garden improvements began in the winter of 2020 and involved opportunity for public input, including an online patron survey in June 2021. Park staff worked with consultants from Vireo, a Kansas City, Mo., based landscape architecture, planning, and design firm.
The rose garden was originally established in 1974 as a community project of the East Central Kansas Garden Clubs and in 1978 was named after Helen S. Cuddy, who was described as a person who “was dedicated to park beautification through her lifelong service and work with garden club projects.” The garden was completed in 1989, when it was said to have over 600 rose bushes. Cuddy died in 1997.
“The efforts to bring the site into ADA compliance, add seasonal interest, and provide a gathering space will make the garden more enjoyable for all visitors,” Guyton said. “It is exciting to improve upon the garden where people have had so many memories and will continue to create more.”
See more information and updates about this project.