Posted by William Nunnelley on 2009-05-07

Samford University will dedicate the Gertha Itasca Earwood Bolding Memorial Rose Garden Friday, May 8, at 6:30 p.m. The beautifully landscaped series of terraces featuring a variety of roses and other plantings is adjacent to Bonnie Bolding Swearingen Hall, part of Samford's fine arts complex. Swearingen Hall houses Harrison Theatre, Bolding Studio and the Samford Art Gallery.

The garden is a gift from Samford alumna and benefactor Bonnie Bolding Swearingen in memory of her mother. The late Gertha Itasca Earwood Bolding was a minister's wife and the mother of five daughters and two sons. Born in north Alabama, she resided in Birmingham during her later adult life.

Bonnie Bolding Swearingen is a 1955 Samford graduate who successfully pursued an acting career. After a variety of roles in movies and television, she left acting to become a New York stock broker. Following her marriage to John Swearingen, board chairman and chief executive officer of Standard Oil (Indiana), she played a leading role in the support of Chicago arts and charities.

She has been a generous supporter of Samford over the years. The university recognized her support in 2006 by naming the north wing of its fine arts facility for Mrs. Swearingen.

The Bolding Rose Garden dedication will include remarks from Samford President Andrew Westmoreland and responses by two of Mrs. Bolding's daughters, Bonnie Bolding Swearingen and Margie Bolding. A presentation from "Feliciana Feydra LeRoux" will close the program.

The rose was Mrs. Bolding's favorite flower, and the garden that bears her name is home to a diversity of roses that will provide an abundance of blooms throughout the season. Primary bloom periods will be April-May and October-November.

The terraces feature striking Pennsylvania bluestone paving with brick banding. A fountain is the central feature of the upper terrace and a central planter with ornamental grasses is the focal point of the lower terrace. The middle terrace provides seating areas for viewing the central rose gardens.

The gardens feature the tea roses First Prize and Honor accented by other rose varieties such as New Dawn Rose, Lady Elsie May, Ducher, Julia Child, Sea Foam Rose and Lovely Fairy Rose. In addition, the gardens feature camellia, Natchez crape myrtle, hydrangea, kousa dogwood and sweetbay magnolia plantings.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.