Arboretum’s roses survive tornado


WOOSTER, Ohio — Almost all the 1,500 heirloom roses in Ohio State University’s Secrest Arboretum survived the recent tornado there.

“We technically lost maybe four roses,” Kelly King, the collection’s caretaker, said.

King is a plant materials specialist at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster. The arboretum is part of the center.

“Many of the large roses are lying horizontal and will have to be cut back, and hopefully then will sprout back,” King said. “Some are still blooming, but they’re pretty tattered and are full of debris.”


The roses in the garden represent about 500 different kinds of heirloom roses — also called antique roses or old-fashioned roses and first developed hundreds of years ago. It’s one of the largest collections like it in the U.S. Gardeners prize heirloom roses for, among other things, their ease of care, extended bloom times and all-round hardy natures.

A tornado with winds of up to 130 mph hit the main OARDC campus and arboretum Sept. 16, devastating buildings, greenhouses and at least 1,500 large trees. The campus and arboretum, including what’s called the Garden of Roses of Legend and Romance, remain closed to the public until further notice.

Non-rose parts in the garden fared the worst.

The tornado:

– Leveled three large linden trees at the front of the garden.

– Flattened eight White Angel crabapple trees at the garden’s east and west entrances.

– Knocked down most of the split-rail fencing there;

– Ripped the roof from the garden’s pavilion.

Still, other parts there came out rosy.

“In the last couple of years we’ve planted numerous smaller trees in the garden, and most of them made it,” King said. “They will always be ‘the trees that made it through the 2010 tornado.’ ”

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, on a tour of the damage two days after the storm, told Moser, “We’ve got to replant and hope that 100 years from now, people will stand back and say, ‘Somebody did the right thing.’ ”

Arboretum Program Director Ken Cochran said cash gifts of any size are welcome. Gifts for memorials and for honoring individuals can be arranged. All gifts are tax-deductible.

Individuals, foundations and corporations interested in donating to the arboretum can do so online at All money given to this fund will go directly to the arboretum’s renewal efforts.

Donations can also be made by mail. Send checks payable to Secrest Arboretum, fund #308772, to: Secrest Arboretum Fund, OARDC, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691.

Volunteer opportunities will be identified shortly. The arboretum remains closed to the public at least until Nov. 1.

For more information, call 330-464-2148 or e-mail


Learn more about the garden at See a slide presentation on the tornado’s damage at


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