Burgess’ Mission—Bringing Color to the Neighborhood


Communities / Jun. 12, 2014 12:39pm EDT

By Donna Olsen

Rosalyn Burgess gives a tour of the garden at the Clara Martin Center that she planted. (Herald / Tim Calabro) Rosalyn Burgess gives a tour of the garden at the Clara Martin Center that she planted. (Herald / Tim Calabro) It is summertime in Randolph and everyone is out doing yard work, hanging pots of flowers from their porches, and tending to their gardens.

And, in the center of town is the public garden outside the Depot that brings color to Main Street. It is the work of Rosalind (Roz) Burgess, whose passion is creating bright colorful gardens.

“She stopped in two years ago and said, “You have an ugly flower bed and it is in need of attention,” said Randolph Town Manager Mel Adams.

Burgess spent three days doing heavy digging because the garden had not been done for five years.

“It turned out beautiful and he liked my work,” said Burgess.

Adams asked Burgess if she would like to work on a garden above the Randolph wall and she agreed.

“I was so excited that I was walking up the hill to Clara Martin Center just talking to myself, like, ‘I can’t believe it,’” she recalled.

“That was my goal—to bring my gardens to the public. Then I did a garden below the wall and one on the side,” said Burgess.

Burgess first worked on gardens for the Clara Martin Center, because she needed a place to relocate one of her flower gardens. That was 15 years ago, and she is still creating gardens there.

All around the main building and also at the transitional housing building, Safe Haven, Burgess has created colorful gardens. She created the memorial garden dedicated to clients of the Clara Martin Center who have died and who are remembered yearly.

“The memorial garden spot was a big hump of stones and weeds. I always wondered what was there, so I started cleaning up,” Burgess said. “Then, Clara Martin Center wanted to do a memorial garden.”

In her teens, Burgess would watch her mother work in her garden on her rose bushes and she would put stones around the garden creating a border.

Adding Stone

“I enjoy working with rocks. I love rocks. I love their shapes and colors. A flower garden looks nice with the border stones. Nothing more awesome than flowers and stones. I like digging in the good earth,” said Burgess.

Originally from Maryland, Burgess has lived in Randolph 28 years. She is self-taught and has a passion for color.

“If you stop and look around, there is color all around you,” said Burgess.

Before studying gardening, Burgess worked with pastels. She would do drawings and fill them in with pastels. Her passion is colors. Her favorites are bright colors such as red, orange and yellow, with a touch of black.

Later on, in her thirties, Burgess discovered that Gertrude Jekyll, a world-famous gardener, worked with those colors.

“I studied her. She is the way I like to do my gardens. She is known for her work with pastel colors in her gardens and she is well-known for doing her gardens all over Europe,” said Burgess.

Before moving to Randolph, Burgess worked with architect Richard Dybvig in Chelsea and Williamstown.

“I did gardens for him at his house projects for 12 years,” said Burgess.

Burgess says she is so excited when she wakes up in the morning —and after she has her coffee—she is out the door by 5 a.m. She usually works daily, from four-to-eight hours, depending how she feels.

“She is energetic, thoughtful, and she is tremendously helpful and has an eye for color,” said Adams. “She has done work on the mural,” he added.

“I enjoy my work so much that I had enough confidence to bring it out in public, to help Randolph look beautiful. People in this town care a lot about how it looks, and I wanted to do something to add to it,” said Burgess.

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