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Heat brings out camellias early; Camellia Show coming soon

98th annual Sacramento Camellia Show set for March 5 and 6

Red camellia blossom
Camellia 'Tom Knudsen' has eye-catching red flowers. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

A beloved Sacramento tradition returns soon. But with so much recent heat, will there still be enough camellias for the 98th annual Sacramento Camellia Show?

“I said, ‘Stop! Don’t bloom until March 5!’ But my camellias aren’t listening,” said Julie Vierra, president of the
Camellia Society of Sacramento . “In this heat, they open so quickly, then boom! They fall off. The wind doesn’t help either.”

But there will still be lots and lots of entries for the show, Vierra predicted. After missing a year to pandemic restrictions, there’s just too much pent-up enthusiasm to keep camellia lovers away.

“Is there ever! We are so excited to see all our camellia friends,” Vierra said. “We have judges coming from as far away as Los Angeles.”

Record-warm days in early February have prompted many local camellias into full bloom, weeks ahead of their usual early March arrival. Sunday (Feb. 13) was the hottest-ever February day in Sacramento at 78 degrees.

Fortunately for camellia lovers, cooler days are forecast between now and the 2022 show, set for March 5 and 6. Instead of Memorial Auditorium (which hosted this event for decades), the Sacramento Elks Lodge on Riverside Boulevard in the Greenhaven/Pocket neighborhood will be the setting.

The Elks Lodge also hosted the 2020 camellia show, one of the last local public events before COVID-19 forced months of cancellations.

“We closed our show on Sunday, and (the following) Wednesday, the whole state closed down,” Vierra recalled.

Although mask mandates are expected to be relaxed in early March, the Camellia Society will urge participants to practice precautions. The lodge’s exhibit hall allows for lots of room for social distancing. Face masks will be required for entry.

Show hours are 3 to 6 p.m. March 5 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 6. Admission and parking are free; donations are welcome.

Besides hundreds of camellia blooms at their peak of beauty, the show also features many flower arrangements created by floral artists. Grown by Nuccio’s Nurseries , more than 200 plants will be offered for sale.

The Elks Lodge is located at 6446 Riverside Blvd., Sacramento, where Florin Road dead-ends at Riverside Boulevard.

For more details: .

Trophy table at the 2020 Sacramento Camellia Show. (Photo: Debbie Arrington)


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Dec. 10:

Take advantage of these dry but crisp conditions. It’s time to get out the rake!

* Rake leaves away from storm drains and keep gutters clear.

* Fallen leaves can be used for mulch and compost. Chop up large leaves with a couple of passes with a lawn mower.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they’re dormant. Without their foliage, trees are easier to prune.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Make sure to take frost precautions with new transplants and sensitive plants. Mulch, water and cover tender plants in the late afternoon to retain warmth.

* Succulent plants are at particular risk if temperatures drop below freezing. Don’t water succulents before frost; cover instead. Use cloth sheets, not plastic. Make sure to remove coverings during the day.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.

* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eaves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.

* Plant garlic (December's the last chance -- the ground is getting cold!) and onions for harvest in summer.

* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.

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