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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 Feb. 18:

It's wet to start the week. When you do get outside, between or after storms, concentrate on damage control:

* Keep storm drains and gutters clear of debris.

* Clean up tree debris knocked down by wind and rain.

* Where did the water flow in your garden? Make notes where revisions are necessary.

* Are any trees leaning? See disturbances in the ground or lawn around their base? Time to call an arborist before the tree topples.

* Dump excess water out of pots.

* Indoors, start peppers, tomatoes and eggplant from seed.

* Lettuce and other greens also can be started indoors from seed.

* Got bare-root plants? Put their roots in a bucket of water until outdoor soil dries out. Or pot them up in 1- or 5-gallon containers. In April, transplant the plant, rootball and all, into the garden.

* Browse garden websites and catalogs. It’s not too late to order for spring and summer.

* Show your indoor plants some love. Dust leaves and mist to refresh.

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