Alcatraz Garden Blooms Despite Years of Neglect
Once cared for by prisoners, plants still thrive on 'The Rock'
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 27, 2008 6:41 PM CDT
A egret flies over a group of flowers on the west lawn of Alcatraz Island in San Francisco. The former Federal penitentiary and visitor destination has undergone a multi-million dollar restoration and...   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
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(Newser) – The hardened inmates on San Francisco’s Alcatraz Island had tough neighbors who endure to this day: sun-kissed geraniums, snapdragons, gazanias, and roses. Thanks to an ambitious restoration project, “The Rock” is blooming, the Sacramento Bee reports. After work began 5 years ago, gardeners discovered 145 plant varieties that survived 40 years of neglect amidst the island’s harsh conditions.

Before the prison closed in 1963, “Alcatraz residents, Army staff and prisoners, and later penitentiary inmates, staff and their families, all tended these plantings,” one official said. Roses and fuchsias were the darlings of prison staff. One inmate said the flowers saved his life: Upon release, became a horticulturalist at a golf course.