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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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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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