Picture it: A garden filled with silky white dove roses, surrounding structures that capture the architecture of ancient Italian landmarks. In the center is an ornate 30-foot dome of a cathedral. A soaring bell tower also is included in the scene.
It’s not a portrait of the Piazza del Duomo in Florence, Italy, but on Saturday, Tyler will have the next best thing: a re-creation of it at the Tyler Rose Garden.
The grounds of the historic site — which includes a cathedral, a baptistery and bell tower — reflect one of Texas Rose Festival Queen Rachel Clyde’s favorite places. It plays on the event’s theme: “Raindrops on Roses and Other Favorite Things.”
“We are so grateful to the coronation chairmen for selecting such as beautiful theme,” said Mary Lauren Faulkner, co-chair of the Queen’s Tea. “That makes it really easy for the queen’s family and for us to carry that through.”
Construction of the Florence Cathedral began in the late 13th century and was completed by the 15th century. Construction of the Tyler-sized replica, including the mammoth dome, will begin shortly before the Queen’s Tea.
“(Guests) will be blown away because it’s about 30 feet in the air,” said Raymond Krueger, designer of the Queen’s Tea and Rose Show. It’s pretty impressive.”
The cathedral’s bell tower also will be an integral part of the setting.
Dozens of volunteers — up to 75 — will help assemble the project. At least a dozen more will help with the Rose Show, a blooming centerpiece in the entrance of the Rose Museum.
“It’s going to be an absolutely gorgeous setting,” Krueger said. “The Clydes have been very gracious to provide a lovely afternoon for the city of Tyler and I think everyone will want to come see it.”
Organizers said 1,875 white long-stem roses will blanket the site and has a special significance to the event’s theme.
“At that time, white flowers are what most of the churches used,” Mrs. Faulkner said. “White roses are a symbol of the holy spirit.”
The white dove variety has a large cabbage-like bloom.
“It’s just a gorgeous flower,” Krueger said. “You look at it and you’re just happy.”
The roses and other flowers are ordered at least one month in advance. On the evening before the tea, volunteers begin the arrangement and at about 30 minutes before the event, they install the flowers. But planning for the tea starts long before flowers are picked.
“Usually it takes a full 10 months or so to plan every aspect of the Rose Festival,” Krueger said. “It just takes a lot of time and effort to make it personable for the queen’s family.”
Each year, an estimated 2,500 to 3,000 people attend the Queen’s Tea, which gives visitors a chance to get up close and personal with the queen and her court. In between greetings and capturing pictures, guests can enjoy cookies from Sister2Sister Cookies, a local baking company. Iced tea also will be served. A string quartet from Bishop T. K. Gorman will provide the entertainment.
THE ROSE GARDEN, ROSE SHOW
Visitors to the Queen’s Tea also can scan the 14-acre Rose Garden, which is in full bloom during the festival and features more than 35,000 rose bushes. The garden is maintained by the city of Tyler and supported by donations of rose bushes from rose growers. It welcomes visitors from around the country and is the city’s top tourist attraction.
At the entrance to the Rose Garden, guests will be welcomed by the fragrant assortment of 7,500 roses.
In addition to volunteers and the tea’s committee, Craig Reiland and Jimmie Frater have played key roles in creating the Queen’s Tea, organizers said.
Vendors include: Riley Harris Construction, Barrett Appliance and Home Products, Sign Masters, All American Party and Tent Rental, Jerry’s Flowers and Associates, James Awning and Canvas, and artist Shirley Kirkley.