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Prune-a-thon returns to McKinley Rose Garden

Volunteers needed to help landmark site while learning about rose care

This is the McKinley Park Rose Garden in its full blooming glory. Achieving this in 2023 is the goal of the January Prune-a-thon.

This is the McKinley Park Rose Garden in its full blooming glory. Achieving this in 2023 is the goal of the January Prune-a-thon. Debbie Arrington

It’s back! In January, rose lovers and gardeners of all ages will come together for Prune-a-thon – a community effort to help the McKinley Memorial Rose Garden.

In years past, volunteers pruned the garden’s entire collection of 1,200-plus roses in one day. The upcoming 2023 Prune-a-thon will stretch over two Saturdays – Jan. 7 and 14. Each pruning session will run from 9 a.m. to noon with a light lunch available for participants.

Experienced rosarians from the Sacramento Rose Society and Sacramento parks staff will supervise volunteers.

Registration and parking are free. No experience is necessary, although volunteers under age 18 must have a parent’s or guardian’s signature to participate. Tools and instruction will be provided. Bring gloves and, if possible, bypass pruners.

Women bundled up on a winter day working in a rose garden
Here's what the rose garden looks like in winter.

The Prune-a-thon is a great opportunity to learn about roses or reinvigorate pruning skills. It’s also a wonderful chance to show this historic rose garden some love.

This month, the City of Sacramento Parks and Recreation Department took over management of the rose garden as well as Clunie Community Center and the Shepard Garden and Arts Center from Friends of East Sacramento. In addition to tackling pruning (the biggest chore in any rose garden), the Prune-a-thon will serve as a recruiting event for year-round rose garden volunteers.

Prune-a-thon participants should dress warmly. Closed-toe shoes are required. Water will be provided.

For details and to register in advance via QR code:

Want to learn more about rose care? Here are a few of Debbie's previous posts:

December rose care: Start pruning now

Grow your own vase-worthy roses

How to propagate roses from stems

How to shop for a new rose bush


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Garden Checklist for week of June 2

It's going to be hot this week, so take care of chores in the morning. That includes irrigation.

* Warm weather brings rapid growth in the vegetable garden, with tomatoes and squash enjoying the heat. Deep-water, then feed with a balanced fertilizer. Bone meal or rock phosphate can spur the bloom cycle and help set fruit.

* Generally, tomatoes need deep watering two to three times a week, but don't let them dry out completely. That can encourage blossom-end rot.

* 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.

* Avoid pot “hot feet.” Place a 1-inch-thick board under container plants sitting on pavement. This little cushion helps insulate them from radiated heat.

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

* 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.

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

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes. There’s still time to plant melons, pumpkins and squash from seed.

* 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.

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