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Between storms, Prune-a-thon set for Saturday at McKinley Rose Garden

Be prepared for mud while learning about rose care

Volunteers in a previous January prune the McKinley Park roses. Two days of Prune-a-thons are scheduled this year, on Jan. 7 and 14.

Volunteers in a previous January prune the McKinley Park roses. Two days of Prune-a-thons are scheduled this year, on Jan. 7 and 14. Debbie Arrington

It may be soggy, but we’ll be pruning. Despite heavy rains this past week, the Prune-a-thon at McKinley Park’s Memorial Rose Garden is expected to be held as scheduled on Saturday, Jan. 7.

Sacramento-area parks were closed mid-week due to concerns about falling trees and branches. (Or in the case of the rose garden, falling palm fronds.) But all parks are expected to be reopened by Saturday morning.

From 9 a.m. to noon, volunteers will be out in force to prune the beloved garden in McKinley Park.

Located on H Street near 33rd Street in East Sacramento, the rose garden is home to about 1,200 rose bushes, all in need of some TLC. All volunteers are welcome; no experience is necessary.

Skilled rosarians from the Sacramento Rose Society will lead volunteers, supervised by Sacramento parks employees.

Registration and parking are free. Water and light lunch will be provided. 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.

Dress warmly. Considering how muddy the garden will be, wear closed-toe, water-repellent shoes or boots.

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.

In addition to tackling pruning (the biggest chore in any rose garden), the Prune-a-thon serves as a recruiting event for year-round rose garden volunteers.

Can’t make it Saturday? A second Prune-a-thon session is scheduled for 9 a.m. Jan. 14.

For details and to register in advance via QR code: https://bit.ly/3HQU9JM

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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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