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International rose expert returns to Sacramento

Stephen Scanniello explains pruning techniques while entertaining rose fans at the Historic
City Cemetery in 2019. He'll be back in the area starting Thursday.
Scanniello leads two pruning workshops Saturday, presents preservation talk Thursday

He’s back! World-renowned rose expert Stephen Scanniello returns to Sacramento this week to inspire local rose lovers and share some of his vast knowledge.

On Saturday, Jan. 11, he’ll lead two pruning demonstrations at Sacramento’s Historic City Cemetery heritage rose garden. He’ll also make a free presentation about his preservation work at 7:30 p.m. Thursday (Jan. 9) to the Sacramento Rose Society at the Shepard Garden and Arts Center in McKinley Park. On Friday, he plans to visit the Woodland Public Library’s rose garden.

President of the Heritage Rose Foundation, Scanniello is a leader in preservation efforts around the globe. Curator of the New York Botanical Garden’s Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden, he also is in charge of the revival of Connecticut’s Elizabeth Park, the nation’s oldest public rose garden. He’s written several books as well as created scores of gardens for private clients.

The cemetery garden is what brings Scanniello west each winter.

“This is my fifth trip to prune at the cemetery,” he said by phone from his New Jersey home. “It’s a working weekend. I’m looking forward to it.”

Scanniello adores the cemetery rose garden, a living library of about 500 antique and old garden roses – many found nowhere else.

“I think it’s one of the most interesting rose gardens and collections of roses in the world,” he said. “There’s not anything like it on the East Coast. To me, it’s incredibly refreshing to see these roses growing in what appears to be a safe place.

“It’s an amazing collection, a real treasure,” he added. “Roses grow so perfectly in Sacramento. They don’t have the disease issues we have (on the East Coast). They don’t have to contend with winter weather like we do. … Letting roses grow to their full capacity is wonderful to see.”

No reservations are necessary to attend Thursday’s talk at Shepard Center; the public is invited to attend. The center is located at 3330 McKinley Blvd., Sacramento.

For Saturday’s pruning events at the cemetery, attendees should get tickets ($10 donation) in advance. At 9 a.m., Scanniello will show how to prune large climbers – including some of the cemetery’s giants. At 1 p.m., he’ll tackle shrub roses. The cemetery is located at 1000 Broadway, Sacramento.

Tickets and details: .


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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