On Saturday, Jan. 5, about 60 volunteers of all ages came out to help the Sacramento Rose Society with its annual pruning of the McKinley Park Rose Garden in East Sacramento.
Kent Duncan, president of the Sacramento Rose Society, says having that many community volunteers come out to learn how to prune the roses was a big help since it’s a large job. “There’s 1,100 roses there, so it takes a while to prune and having that many people was wonderful,” he adds.
And Ellie Longanecker, a UC Master Gardener and consulting rosarian with the Sacramento Rose Society, had an additional 65 volunteers through the Sacramento Sheriff’s alternative sentencing program help with the pruning on New Year’s Eve as well.
Longanecker says an event like this can help show the community how all their hard work right now will be rewarded in the spring. “One of the reasons this garden can be organic — as in no pesticides or fungicides – is because the winter prune (cleans) out the garden and (gets) all the leaves and debris so it doesn’t over-winter,” she explains. “That really encourages a nice healthy spring.”
Longanecker is the main contact between the Society and the McKinley Rose Garden, and has been working on improving the garden since 2009. She says the Society was asked to help restore the rose garden as the roses were declining.
After working with neighborhood community organizations such as Friends of East Sacramento and MENA (McKinley East Sacramento Neighborhood Association), and receiving the support of the Sacramento Rose Society’s Board, Longanecker says she took a proposal to the City of Sacramento to improve the garden. Ultimately the City decided to initiate a major restoration of the garden, Longanecker says, and funded $350,000 to pay for a new irrigation system, hardscape and sod.
Once the improvements were finished – including the planting of hundreds of purchased and donated roses – Longanecker says the McKinely Park Rose Garden was reopened in March 2012.
Longanecker says she is continuing to work on the rose garden, such as replacing stakes for “rose trees” she has planted, plus they plan to restore the antique water fountain monument and add another to the garden. And now the garden is also under the care of Friends of East Sacramento, who have hired a professional gardener and is managing renting the garden for weddings and other events.
“How the rose garden has come together has really exceeded any expectation that I had for it,” Longanecker says. “It’s just incredible what’s come together with the Friends of East Sacramento in conjunction with the Sacramento Rose Society, the Parks Department and the community … to make that whole thing happen. It’s really positive and that’s really what a club is all about.”
So just who is the Sacramento Rose Society?
Duncan says the Society, which has been around since the 1940s, is a group of about 80 members who enjoy growing roses and educating the public about growing roses.
He says the group meets the second Thursday of each month at the Shepard Garden & Arts Center at McKinley Park. All meetings are open to the public, and each has a lecturer to talk about specific rose growing topics.
Longanecker says the January lecture will be on pruning, while the February meeting will feature the club’s rose auction. “We have some beautiful roses to auction to the public … it’s stuff that you sometimes can’t get at a nursery,” she says.
In addition to their monthly meetings, the Society also holds annual Rose Show the last weekend of April, also at the Shepard Center. Duncan says it is an exhibition show and anybody who wishes to enter can do so, or they can bring in roses for identification or learn more about rose care and growing. “It’s a great show to go to look for roses that you might be interested in, either in terms of the style of the rose or color, (and) it’s a great place to identify and look for things that you would like to have in your garden,” he adds.
The Society also has a number of volunteer certified rosarians that Duncan says anyone can call for help or advice with their roses. A list of rosarians by area can be found on the Society’s website, HYPERLINK “http://www.sactorose.org/sacramentorosesociety”www.sactorose.org/sacramentorosesociety. “The consulting rosarians have to pass a test to get that designation so that they have the expertise to answer the questions,” Duncan explains. “They will either help you over the phone or come to your house and help answer questions about roses.”
Make It Blossom
With the Sacramento Rose Society doing so much to help the Sacramento community, what can community members do to help their efforts?
When it comes to the McKinley Park Rose Garden, Longanecker says the community can help support the garden through booking events, the adopt-a-plot program, and financial donations. She adds they will soon be looking for volunteers to help in April with “dead heading” – removing blooms past their prime to encourage the flower to bloom again.
For the Society itself, Duncan encourages anyone with an interest in roses to consider coming to an upcoming meeting. “That’s where you’re going to learn the most – you’ve got very experienced rosarians at the meetings that can answer questions, plus there’s usually a topic at each meeting that has something to do with the care and culture of roses,” he says. “That’s the best way to truly make sure you’re getting good information and get your questions answered.”
And Duncan says they are hoping to attract young people who are interested in roses to help add energy to the Society. “We’re trying to let people realize roses are not difficult to grow and they don’t have to take a lot of time – there’s a lot of newer roses that are great for in your yard and don’t require a lot of time,” he says.
Longanecker agrees, and says she was pleased to see the number of younger volunteers at the annual pruning, as well as volunteers that come during the year from area schools and groups. “We need to foster a spark and enthusiasm and love of gardening in a younger generation … it’s really important to help encourage them to be the gardeners of our future,” she says. “I don’t want to see the enthusiasm or passion for gardening go by the wayside.”
The Sacramento Rose Society meets the second Thursday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the Shepard Garden & Arts Center, 3330 McKinley Blvd., in East Sacramento. For more information, visit www.sactorose.org/sacramentorosesociety.
To book a wedding or event, or adopt-a-plot to help with the ongoing expenses for maintenance for McKinley Park Rose Garden, call 916-452-8100.