On Tuesday, May 28, Dallas Arboretum President/CEO Mary Brinegar admitted that there had been a drizzle on the grounds’ 66 acres. But by 4:10 p.m., there was only sunshine trying to break through the clouds and no wet stuff.
In the Boswell Family Garden about 30 folks including Veta Boswell and her daughter Kama Koudelka and Nancy and Robert Pierce with their sons Chip Pierce and Jack Pierce and Nancy’s aunt Nancy Shutt gathered in the gazebo overlooking White Rock Lake to celebrate some new arrivals. On the walkway leading to the gazebo, a flourish of 200 rose bushes like Hybrid Tea Roses Marilyn Monroe, Folklore, Dublin, Savannah, Pope John Paul II and Tropicana looked right at home. The new rose residents had been a gift from Nancy and Robert last fall and were now showing their finest colors.
While the gift had resulted from the Pierces’ moving from their home in Preston Hollow to a new house with limited space, their creation started decades ago when Nancy’s mother, Cherrie Perkins Wells, had “encouraged Nancy to start her rose collection.” It seems that when Nancy moved to Georgia, she was having a rough time trying to grow vegetables. It wasn’t due to Nancy’s green thumb, but rather the area’s nibbling creatures. Cherrie suggested that Nancy try roses. It worked.
When the Pierces returned to Dallas, Nancy expanded her count and tackled the project by studying catalogues and discovering her “rose bible” — Helpmefind.com/roses.
But she didn’t limit her research to reading and staying at home. She visited botanical gardens like the Dallas Arboretum and compared notes with growers.
Over the years, Nancy meticulously compiled materials about her roses including a detailed spreadsheet, thousands of photos of her roses and a note-card collection. So impressive was her work that “her rose garden was submitted to the archives of the Smithsonian Institute.”
When Nancy realized that her roses need new “digs,” she called Mary asking if she would like some rose bushes. “Mary asked, “How many?” And Nancy said, “About 200 rose bushes.”
But before the deal was done, Mary had to check with Veta, whose family had created the Boswell Family Garden in 2004. Veta was on board with the newbies moving in.
At the dedication, Mary thanked her staff. “Jenny Wegley, our vice president of horticulture, had her team transplant the roses and do the placement. Her team is also working with Claude Graves, a rose expert who will help us maintain them. A special thank you to Shelley Potter, who is representing our board and helping us.”
She added, “First I want to say that this area of the property was developed because a wonderful man named George Boswell, who loved his family, wanted to make a major contribution. So we call this the Boswell Family Garden. And he wanted the area to be beautiful and pristine all the time. So today, as we further enhance their garden, the family is represented by Veta Boswell and her daughter Kama Koudelka.”
Dallas Arboretum’s Gardens VP Dave Forehand spoke about the vision behind the garden. “I came to work here in 2001, and one of the first people I met was Dr. George Boswell, a wonderful and interesting man. He worked on our Gardens and Grounds Committee and had a keen interest in plants and seeing the garden develop. Warren Hill Johnson was also on that committee and good friends with Dr. Boswell. He’s a landscape architect who came up with a magnificent plan to develop the sunken garden as well as this space. Warren was very good at coming up with interesting names, so one day he called Dr. Boswell said, ‘I think we should call the garden El Inesperado,’ and Dr. Boswell hung up on him.
“A few days later, Dr. Boswell called Warren back and asked him where he got that name. Dr. Boswell said the name of the ranch where he grew up was called El Inesperado, which means the ‘unexpected.’ So that was how the garden was named.”
Mary thanked the Pierces and concluded, “Today, we’re dedicating a plaque honoring this gift that says, ‘Donated by Nancy and Robert Pierce in honor of her mother Cherrie Perkins Wells.’ Thank you for helping our garden grow.”
According to Mary, “We are so appreciative that the Boswell and Vaughan families years ago helped us establish a rose garden. Now with Nancy’s generous donation, we have even more areas for our guests to ‘stop and smell the roses’ as many are fragrant, unique and stunning.”