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'Rock star of roses' returns to Sacramento

Heritage rose expert Scanniello at three local events

Always entertaining as well as informative,
Stephen Scanniello will lead two workshops at the Historic City Cemetery.
(Photo: Courtesy Judy Eitzen)

Stephen Scanniello, the “rock star of roses,” returns to Sacramento for three events this week.

Probably the nation’s most famous heritage rose expert, Scanniello will be the guest speaker at the Sacramento Rose Society’s January meeting, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan.10, at the Shepard Garden and Arts Center, 3330 McKinley Blvd., Sacramento. His presentation is free and open to the public.

Roses brought friendships as well as opportunities for Scanniello, president of the Heritage Rose Foundation and curator of the New York Botanical Garden’s Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden. He’s created gardens for New York’s rich and famous. Among his rose friends is the original Mary Poppins, Julie Andrews. He’ll share stories about how those rosy relationships grew.

Scanniello currently is leading efforts to restore the garden of Alexander Hamilton’s Harlem home and Elizabeth Park, the nation’s oldest public rose garden in Hartford, Conn. He has lots of entertaining stories about those projects, too.

Saturday, Scanniello will lead two pruning demonstrations at the Historic City Cemetery’s heritage rose garden, the main reason Scanniello has become a frequent Sacramento visitor. Based in New Jersey, he’s made pruning the cemetery’s world famous roses an annual pilgrimage.

At 9 a.m., Scanniello will lead a workshop on how to prune climbing roses, using the cemetery collection as hands-on examples. Scanniello literally wrote the book on this subject; he’s the author of “Climbing Roses” and five other books.

At 1 p.m., Scanniello turns his attention to pruning heritage roses, including the cemetery’s many Victorian rarities. Known for their intense fragrance as well as bountiful blooms, these old garden roses need special attention. This expert will share how he treats these unusual bushes to bring out their best.

Suggested donation for each workshop is $10 with proceeds supporting the cemetery garden. Wear sensible shoes; paths can be slippery.

Street parking is available near the cemetery, located at 1000 Broadway, Sacramento. For details: .

- Debbie Arrington


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of June 4:

Because of the comfortable weather, it’s not too late to set out tomato and pepper seedlings as well as squash and melon plants. They’ll appreciate this not-too-hot weather. Just remember to water.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, melons, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes.

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the wee hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

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