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What rain? McKinley Park Prunathon goes on

Prunathon volunteers warm up inside Clunie Center
after tackling McKinley Park's rose garden.
(Photo: Ellie Longanecker)
Volunteers brave weather to prune garden's 1,200 roses

Call it the miracle on H Street.

Despite wind, rain and mud, 70 volunteers turned out Saturday for the annual McKinley Park Prunathon and finished the memorial rose garden’s 1,200 bushes by noon.

They got “lots of fresh air,” noted garden coordinator Lyn Pitts, who organized the Prunathon along with Ellie Longanecker. Both women gave their “sincere gratitude” to those who braved the bad weather.

“Seventy wonderful volunteers turned out to make the annual pruning event a success, in some pretty cold wet windy weather,” Friends of the McKinley Park Rose Garden posted on Facebook.

After pruning, volunteers warmed up with lunch at the park’s Clunie Community Center.

“The hot soup from Friends of East Sacramento and Evans Kitchen was appreciated by all,” the post read.

After all that work, the volunteers enjoyed minestrone and clam chowder.

“All the volunteers could not fit in the room,” Longanecker said. “Not a drop (of soup) was left.”

Now freshly pruned and weeded, the McKinley Park rose garden is ready for another year of weddings and other celebrations. Featured in the movie “Lady Bird,” the famous garden is considered among Sacramento’s most romantic settings.

With forecasts for the season’s worst storm so far this winter, organizers had set a Jan. 12 rain date for the Prunathon, usually held on the first Saturday of each new year. But ignoring the weather, volunteers turned out in force on Jan. 5.

“I arrived at 9 a.m. and Lyn Pitts already had all the volunteers at work,” said Dave Coop, president of the Sacramento Rose Society. “Community volunteers, AmeriCorps young people (and more) were busy pruning. While they were working, Lyn was instructing another large group about the (morning’s work) and briefly ‘how to prune a rose.’ ”

Coop led a hands-on pruning workshop for some of the public attendees. “All had good questions and eager to learn,” he noted.

"Yes, it was wet off and on and a bit breezy, but not intolerable,” Coop added. “It even cleared slightly late in the morning.”

All that wet work was worth it, Coop noted.

“It was - as in the past - amazing to see that large garden get pruned by noon,” he said. “But I was happy that we ignored the network weather reports that said this storm was going to 'dump' on us.”

All done: McKinley Park's 1,200-bush memorial rose garden
is now pruned for 2019, thanks to volunteers. (Photo: Lyn Pitts)


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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.

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