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Gardens Tell the Other Story of Alcatraz

Articles: Gardens Tell the Other Story of Alcatraz

[sidebar]The story of the gardens of Alcatraz is a compelling account of men and plants brought together on an island uninhabitable by either.

Russell Beatty, Gardens of Alcatraz, 1996 [/sidebar]

For more than a century, gardens were an important part of everyday life on Alcatraz. Planted by successive waves of island inhabitants, from Civil War soldiers and their families to prison inmates, penitentiary staff and their families, this garden legacy indicates a continuous desire by residents to make the forbidding island an inhabitable home. Many of the plants selected by these gardeners proved to be excellent choices for the harsh and barren environment, surviving through the four decades of neglect that followed the prison’s closing in 1963.

By 2003, the garden legacy left by the former residents was obscured by a massive tangle of overgrowth. Over the past four years, the Garden Conservancy and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, in partnership with the National Park Service, have gradually revealed the structure of the old ornamental gardens and begun their repair and replanting. Garden Conservancy staff and volunteer garden crews now work year-round to uncover gard...

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