Lady Astor Roses are being planted in locations throughout the city, and when they bloom in the days ahead, citizens will be able to appreciate the deep, pink-colored flower that serves as the city’s official flower.
The city of Danville Public Works Department picked up 128 flowers this week at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, which donated the flowers to the city as part of one of its projects.
“The blooms are very pretty,” said April Dailey, a horticulturist for Public Works. “Most of them have not yet bloomed, but they are budding up, so if they have not bloomed now, then they soon will.”
Lady Astor Roses are hybrid tea roses with a double blossom. They are considered mature when they reach four to five feet in height.
Three roses already in bloom were planted at the Court Street entrance to the Municipal Building on Patton Street. Another 25 plants were placed in the rain garden located at northwest corner of River Street and North Main Street.
The other locations selected are as follows:
• Public Works entrance on South Boston Road
• Harris Financial Services Center on Memorial Drive
• Corner of Central Boulevard and Fulton Heights
• Danville Interchange Garden No. 8 at Riverside Drive and Keen Street
• Northwest interchange of U.S. 29 Bypass and Goodyear Boulevard
• West Main Street at the U.S. 29 Bypass interchange
• West Main Street at the civic sign at Edgewood Drive
Danville Public Schools will receive one rose plant for each school.
For a few of these locations, including the schools, roses will not be available until mid-April, at which time the Institute for Advanced Learning & Research will supply additional plants, bringing the total donation to 200 plants.
“These rose plants are repeat bloomers,” Dailey said. “The bloom will be ongoing from the spring to the fall.”
Dailey said the planting and care of the Lady Astor Roses will be an experiment for the city.
“We have many other roses in our landscapes, but this year will be an introduction for us with these roses,” Dailey said. “That is why we are putting them in different locations. We want to see where they will best develop. I am hoping we can make it a staple rose for us.”
Benny Alford, a general supervisor for Public Works, said landscape crews will closely monitor the development of the roses.
“I will have them staying on top of them so we make sure we see how they grow,” Alford said. “Once we see how it goes this year, then we will know exactly what we will need to do with them.”
Alford said the Institute provided a maintenance schedule for watering, feeding, mulching and pruning.
“It is something exciting, and it is good for the community,” Alford said. “We hope it brings some attention to Danville. We will put our heart and soul into it.”
The Lady Astor Rose project is a partnership among Growing Virginia, Langhorne House, the city of Danville and the Institute’s Dan River Plant Propagation Center. Growing Virginia has the marketing rights and will eventually market the rose to the general public. The rose will be made available initially to garden clubs, master gardeners and civic groups for pre-order beginning April 2, for delivery next spring.
Nancy Witcher Langhorne was born in Danville in 1879, and went on to become Lady Astor, the first woman to serve in the British Parliament. She returned to visit Danville in 1922, and distributed roses to local school children. Several of those original roses have been preserved throughout the years, and are being propagated at the Institute.
Last October, City Council adopted the Lady Astor Rose as the city’s official flower, prior to a visit from Lady Astor’s grandson, Lord William Waldorf Astor and several other family members.