America's favorite flower found a sweet spot in Sacramento.
Showstoppers every spring, roses annually grab the April spotlight. And this month's garden calendar is especially rosy.
Next Saturday, the Historic City Cemetery's Heritage Rose Group, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, hosts its annual Open Garden Day.
Offering free guided tours of the historic cemetery in full flower, this event has blossomed into a major attraction, with rose lovers coming from throughout Northern California. Arrive early for the sale of young bushes grown from cuttings from the cemetery's living library of rare vintage roses.
Another local landmark, McKinley Park's memorial rose garden, is about to reopen just in time for weddings and the Sacramento Rose Society's annual show April 28 and 29.
With a Wild West theme (imagine bouquets in boots), the rose show will be held in the park's Shepard Garden and Arts Center. Hundreds of cut flowers will be on display in this salute to spring.
During the free show, patrons can mosey over to McKinley's rose garden on H Street and see its transformation. Featuring more than 1,000 bushes, the renovated garden will be officially reopened with a ceremony May 12. But the roses can't wait; they're already bursting out all over.
In Roseville (where else?), the Sierra Foothills Rose Society marked its own milestone. Last week, the club celebrated its 50th anniversary with a dinner, cake and cider toast at the Maidu Community Center.
Master rosarian Muriel Humenick, who co-founded the club with her late husband, Bill, was honored with a "rose chair," découpaged with hundreds of rose photos.
A dozen past presidents of Sierra Foothills joined current president Cindy Phipps and Jolene Adams, the incoming national president of the American Rose Society, to salute Humenick and the club's devotion to local gardening. About 65 club members and guests turned out.
"It was a lovely evening and tribute to Muriel and all the current and past presidents," vice president Linda Knowles said. "All the tributes were very nice."
Roseville Mayor Pauline Roccucci shared roses and read a city proclamation, said past president Sue Bennett.
And the party didn't stop there.
"When (the roses are) in bloom, all in attendance will get a 'Sierra Foothills' rose," Bennett added.
Named for the society, the new rose was hybridized by Benardella Roses and donated to the group by Bill DeVor of Greenheart Farms.
Lack of open roses in April is what originally helped prompt the founding of Sierra Foothills, Humenick recalled. Roses in Placer County and the foothills tend to bloom two or three weeks later than in the Valley.
The Sacramento Rose Society's annual April show "was just too early for my roses," she said. "I had spent the night before (the 1961 show) with a mist-filled bathroom tub full of specimen 'buds' in an attempt to get them to open."
By 1962, the Humenicks had organized the new club with other flower-loving friends.
"To get a treasury started, I exhibited (flowers) at the Sacramento County Fair and earned about $57, which was a start for stamps and bulletin printing," Muriel said. "We also rented space at Denio's (flea market) and sold a lot of our white elephants. Members got a kick out of participating."
Although interest in rose shows helped Sierra Foothills to sprout, the club soon became devoted to teaching all gardeners how to grow great roses for their own enjoyment.
"We felt it was our duty to help spread the word," Humenick said. "Education was our theme."
That's also the theme of one more big rose event coming soon. UC Davis' California Center for Urban Horticulture will host its fifth annual Rose Day on May 5.
During Rose Day, breeding experts Dr. James Sproul and Jacques Ferare will present a morning workshop on the art of creating new hybrids. Patrons will tour the university's arboretum while learning about rose "romance and legends." Another tour will focus on UC Davis' Foundation Plant Service 8-acre rose test fields.
Capping this May 5 Rose Day will be a public sale of new bushes including the appropriately named floribunda Cinco de Mayo.
With many bushes in flower, the sale will make it very tempting to bring home some new favorites. After all, roses do grow great here.