The Rose Tree Museum started as a boarding home for a mining company. One couple's stay turned a simple boarding home into a local historical site for the upcoming generations of Tombstone, Arizona to love. The rose tree was planted and survived in the Arizona desert and continues to grow to this day. In honor of the World's Largest Rose Tree, Tombstone hosts an annual Rose Festival.
1884 a newly wedded couple came to Tombstone, Arizona from Scotland. The new
husband was working for the Vizinia mining company, that offered housing to
couples working for the company. Mary, the new wife of Henry Gee, grew up in
Scotland and befriended Amelia Adamson, the woman who managed the
boarding home, when she moved. On the couple’s first
wedding anniversary, Mary’s family sent her a box with items that were true to
her homelands, such as plants, bulbs, cuttings from her garden in Scotland, and
several root cuttings from a White Lade Banksia rose tree that she had planted as
a child. Mary and Amelia planted the root cuttings by a woodshed in the back
patio of the boarding home, the same woodshed that had to be cut down years
later, so the rose tree could keep growing. The Scottish rose tree grew in the
Arizona desert even though it was a different climate. Although the women did
not know it yet, their friendship started a tradition in Tombstone for
generations to enjoy.
one of the oldest families who settled in Tombstone bought the boarding home
and turned it into an Inn, Ethel Macia became fascinated with the rose tree. Since
it was planted, the rose tree had grown very tall and wide. Ethel Macia loved
the view, and her husband, James, saw the value in the rose tree. By devising a
trellis system of wood poles and metal pipes, James gave the rose tree the
support it needed to grow even bigger. He used the rose tree as a shady patio
for the Inn’s guests.
the rose tree grew even bigger, it began to attract a lot of attention from people
all over the world. In 1933, the rose tree was featured as the “World’s Largest
Rose Tree” in a column called “Strange As It Seems,” and was even included in
Robert Ripley’s famous “Believe It or Not” column. The Rose Tree holds the
title of the “World’s Largest Rose Tree” in the Guinness Book of World Records. The Rose Tree Inn has now been converted to the Rose Tree Museum.
The patio and backyard are still open to the public for a $5.00 admission
price. The tree now covers almost 5,000 square feet. There is also an elevated
viewing platform to see the tree’s large canopy.
During the tree’s blooming season, the town holds an annual Rose
Festival in April to celebrate the town’s “Shady Lady.” This festival attracts
people from all over the world in hopes of seeing this beautiful Rose Tree. The
2019 Rose Festival will mark the 133rd blooming of the rose tree. A couple of
the festivities include naming an outstanding high school student the Rose
Queen of that year, a pancake breakfast, old-fashioned box lunch auction, and
the annual Rose Parade. The festival also has a variety of shows for
entertainment such as historical gunfights, Art in the Park, Mariachi and
Folklorico performances, and a round-table discussion with members of
Tombstone’s oldest pioneer families.