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Rose plant brought to Denver Botanic Gardens from Camp Amache blooms for the first time

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Posted at 5:30 PM, May 23, 2024

DENVER — A rose plant that was brought to the Denver Botanic Gardens from Camp Amache has bloomed for the first time.

Mike Bone has always had a green thumb.

“If you count each seed that I’ve sown to be germinated, it’s millions of plants,” said Bone, associate director of horticulture at the Denver Botanic Gardens. “It’s a complete, all-consuming life obsession. I do this at home. I do this at work. I dream about it most nights."

Some plants have more significance than others. In the fall of 2021, a team from the botanic gardens went on a journey to get cuttings from a little green rose bush at Camp Amache in southeastern Colorado.

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Amache is one of 10 concentration camps housed in the United States that were unfortunately built to incarcerate 120,000 plus Japanese and Japanese Americans, merely by the fact that they were of Japanese ancestry,” said Stacey Sagara Shigaya, executive director of the Sakura Foundation. “They were not incarcerated because they committed a crime, which is actually a crime in and of itself, basically.”

The Sakura Foundation, which is based in Denver, celebrates and shares Japanese American culture to promote a more resilient, compassionate and equitable society. Sagara’s parents were both incarcerated at internment camps during World War II.

Most of the people who were in those camps are gone. My parents are gone,” said Shigaya. “It's up to us to take the mantle, share their stories, and hopefully make our country realize that every citizen has rights.”

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The rose, which was brought to Denver from Camp Amache, just celebrated a pretty major milestone.

This is our first set of blooms in the last few days,” said Bone. “We're pretty excited to see it bloom.”

I think this rose embodies the perseverance of all of the people who were unjustly incarcerated,” said Shigaya.

It helps tell a story of tenacity.

“It just reminds me of my parents and everything they went through. They were able to come out and create better lives for themselves and have a family,” said Shigaya. “This flower endured years and years, decades of being beat up and going through the weather and having things done to it. And it’s here now. It’s a sign of hope.”


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