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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: camelliasocietyofsacramento.org .

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

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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Jan. 29

Bundle up and get work done!

* Prune, prune, prune. Now is the time to cut back most deciduous trees and shrubs. The exceptions are spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs.

* Now is the time to prune fruit trees, except apricot and cherry trees. Clean up leaves and debris around the trees to prevent the spread of disease.

* Prune roses, even if they’re still trying to bloom or sprouting new growth. Strip off any remaining leaves, so the bush will be able to put out new growth in early spring.

* Prune Christmas camellias (Camellia sasanqua), the early-flowering varieties, after their bloom. They don’t need much, but selective pruning can promote bushiness, upright growth and more bloom next winter. Feed with an acid-type fertilizer. But don’t feed your Japonica camellias until after they finish blooming next month. Feeding while camellias are in bloom may cause them to drop unopened buds.

* Clean up leaves and debris around your newly pruned roses and shrubs. Put down fresh mulch or bark to keep roots cozy.

* Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective.

* This is also the time to spray a copper-based oil to peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl. Avoid spraying on windy days.

* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.

* Plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs.

* Transplant pansies, violas, calendulas, English daisies, snapdragons and fairy primroses.

* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.

* Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.

* In the bulb department, plant callas, anemones, ranunculus and gladiolus for bloom from late spring into summer.

* Plant blooming azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. If you’re shopping for these beautiful landscape plants, you can now find them in full flower at local nurseries.

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