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Volunteers needed! Register now to help prune McKinley Park rose garden

City of Sacramento plans several Saturday pruning sessions in January and February

Volunteers in January 2023 work to prune the dormant roses at McKinley Park's Memorial Rose Garden. Signups are now open through the City of Sacramento for the 2024 rose-pruning days.

Volunteers in January 2023 work to prune the dormant roses at McKinley Park's Memorial Rose Garden. Signups are now open through the City of Sacramento for the 2024 rose-pruning days. Debbie Arrington

It’s almost time once again to show Sacramento’s most romantic spot some love.

McKinley Park’s famous Memorial Rose Garden needs its annual pruning – and volunteers to do it. But instead of tackling all 1,200 roses in just one day, the City of Sacramento’s Parks and Recreation Department is spreading the task over several Saturdays in January and February (plus one Wednesday).

Registration is now open for “Rose Garden Pruning Event,” free and open to any one “less than 100 years,” says the city’s website.

The city’s Park Maintenance Department (PMD) will oversee the volunteers on the first two Saturdays, Jan. 6 and 13. After that, the volunteers will be supervised by parks personnel or other volunteers.

“Volunteers should plan to meet at the Rose Garden,” say the organizers. “Tools, gloves and instruction will be provided. Please dress appropriately for working outdoors, including closed-toe shoes.”

And maybe a rain slicker, too; the pruning sessions will take place, rain or shine.

On the south edge off McKinley Park, the Frederick N. Evans Memorial Rose Garden – named for Sacramento’s first parks superintendent – is located on H Street between Alhambra Boulevard and 33rd Street in East Sacramento. Originally planted in 1929, the rose garden replaced what was a running track (hence its oblong shape). In 2012, the bushes were almost entirely replaced with newer, disease-resistant varieties.

For the pruning events, volunteers are asked to assemble at 8:30 a.m. at the park’s Rose Garden Room, the small structure located on the north side of the garden. The sessions are expected to last 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. each day.

Besides Jan. 6 and 13, pruning sessions are also planned for Jan. 20 and 27 plus Feb. 10 and 17 – all Saturdays. In addition, the pruning crew will be out at 8:30 Wednesday, Jan. 17.

Volunteers under age 18 need a parent’s consent form in order to participate.

To register in advance:

Questions? Email or


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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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