Sacramento Digs Gardening logo
Sacramento Digs Gardening Article
Your resource for Sacramento-area gardening news, tips and events

Articles Recipe Index Keyword Index Calendar Twitter Facebook Instagram About Us Contact Us

Sacramento's oldest camellia gets a new honor

Shown before its move, the Sutter Memorial camellia greeted thousands of new mothers and other patients outside the hospital at 51st and F streets. (Photos courtesy Sutter Memorial Medical Center)

'Sutter Memorial Memories' is one special (and big) bush

Sacramento’s oldest camellia is officially back where it belongs – with a new name.

“Sutter Memorial Memories” is the varietal name chosen for this one-of-a-kind camellia, which grew for generations outside Sutter Memorial Hospital. Tree size, the 10-foot bush now will greet visitors to the Sutter Park neighborhood, the new development that was built on the former hospital grounds.

The camellia is in bloom once more -- and now has a varietal name:
Sutter Memorial Memories.
On Thursday, hospital staff and friends held a dedication ceremony for the transplanted camellia on F Street near 51st Street. A plaque was unveiled detailing the plant’s long history and importance.

“It looks surprisingly good, really nice,” said Camellia Society President Julie Vierra, who took part in the ceremony honoring the transplanted bush. “It’s enormous.”

This is the second major move for this camellia. It was first transplanted from K and 28th streets, the site of the original Sutter Hospital, to East Sacramento in 1937. Believed to be an unnamed sport or seedling, the bush was a gift from Dr. A.R. Boscoe and grew outside his hospital office. Considering the bush was fully mature before its first move, the Sutter Memorial camellia is at least in its 90s and may be over a century old.

Nicknamed “Sacramento’s Baby Hospital,” Sutter was the birthplace of nearly 350,000 babies. Known as Sutter Maternity Hospital, it changed its name to Sutter Memorial as it expanded its services.

“The camellia bloomed every late winter to the delight of staff, new mothers and visitors, signaling the new life that Sutter Memorial was known for,” said hospital spokesman Gary Zavoral. “In addition, Sutter Memorial was where many of the region’s first heart surgeries were performed, including the first heart transplant in Sacramento.”

But when Sutter Memorial planned to move into its new Midtown facilities in 2015, redevelopment put the Sutter camellia at risk. It had to be moved out of the way as the hospital’s buildings were demolished and the new Sutter Park neighborhood went up.

A group of Sutter nurses worked with the Camellia Society of Sacramento and developer Stonebridge Properties to save the humongous and venerable plant. The Sutter camellia was almost as wide as it was tall with roots to match.

Moving such an old and big camellia – then keeping it alive and replanting it – was an extremely difficult operation. BrightView Landscape Services dug up the camellia and maintained it for more than a year until its replanting in December 2018, supervised by Randy Sater of Stonebridge.

Camellia expert Bob Peralta of BrightView checked on the plant regularly, making sure everything was OK. Showing its hardiness, the camellia not only survived, but thrived once it was re-rooted in East Sacramento.

The March 5 dedication ceremony coincided with its first full bloom in its new Sutter Park home.

“I’m amazed at how big it is and how healthy,” Zavoral said. “It might be the biggest as well as oldest camellia in the Camellia City.”


0 comments have been posted.

Taste Summer! E-cookbook


Find our summer recipes here!

Newsletter Subscription

Sacramento Digs Gardening to your inbox.

Local News

Ad for California Local

Thanks to our sponsor!

Summer Strong ad for

Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Sept. 24:

This week our weather will be just right for fall gardening. What are you waiting for?

* Now is the time to plant for fall. The warm soil will get these veggies off to a fast start.

* Keep harvesting tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons and eggplant. Tomatoes may ripen faster off the vine and sitting on the kitchen counter.

* Compost annuals and vegetable crops that have finished producing.

* Cultivate and add compost to the soil to replenish its nutrients for fall and winter vegetables and flowers.

* Fertilize deciduous fruit trees.

* Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.

* Transplant cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower as well as lettuce seedlings.

* Sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies.

* Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.

* Divide and replant bulbs, rhizomes and perennials. That includes bearded iris; if they haven’t bloomed in three years, it’s time to dig them up and divide their rhizomes.

* Dig up and divide daylilies as they complete their bloom cycle.

* Divide and transplant peonies that have become overcrowded. Replant with “eyes” about an inch below the soil surface.

* Late September is ideal for sowing a new lawn or re-seeding bare spots.

Taste Spring! E-cookbook


Find our spring recipes here!