If ever there was a time to stop and smell the roses, this week offers plenty of opportunity.
A side effect of our just-concluded September (and early October) heat wave: lots of roses in full glorious bloom.
See hundreds of examples today at the 50th annual Sierra Foothills Rose Society show at Bushnell Gardens in Granite Bay.
Celebrating its golden anniversary, the Sierra Foothills club continues to thrive even as other garden clubs and institutions wither. The recent demise of the Carmichael Geranium Society and several beloved nurseries underline that fragility.
But Sierra Foothills found a winning combination from its outset by emphasizing education. Members wanted to teach all gardeners how to grow great roses.
"We felt it was our duty to help spread the word," said co-founder Muriel Humenick about the club's early days. "Education was our theme."
Flower shows still serve to teach about different varieties and new developments, as well as entertain with beautiful sights and scents.
Exhibiting roses can be challenging for gardeners, but that's part of the appeal.
"It's fun and educational, and you get to meet a lot of great people," said the current president, Cindy Phipps.
Sacramento's roses have a national showcase late next week when the Historic City Cemetery's Heritage Rose Group hosts a major conference, dedicated to old- garden roses and their preservation. The conference caps the group's 20th anniversary commemoration.
"We're getting people from across the county Maine, New York, Minnesota, Texas, Florida plus a lot from Southern California," said Anita Clevenger, manager of the cemetery's historic rose gardens. "We've got pretty good coverage of the rose world."
The public can still register for the conference online via the group's website, www.cemeteryrose.org.
Docents dressed in Victorian garb will lead a special lantern-lighted tour of the cemetery Friday night for conference attendees.
Next Saturday, the California Auto Museum on Front Street will host a day full of lectures on old-garden roses and their preservation. That evening, author and rose expert Stephen Scaniello will be the keynote speaker at a gala banquet.
"Cemetery Rose," a new documentary by Louise Mitchell about preservation of the Historic City Cemetery gardens, will debut at the conference. (For $15, DVDs later will be available to the public.)
Honored in 2009 with induction to the Great Rosarians of the World international hall of fame, the Historic City Cemetery's rose group is renowned for its work preserving old and otherwise forgotten roses. The cemetery's collection features about 500 examples of these treasured bushes.
Many of the plants originally were collected by Fred Boutin, who will be among the conference's featured speakers.
"Fred believes he's found another rose thought to be extinct," Clevenger said. "It gets people really excited."
Boutin's rediscovery is Bloomfield Abundance, a free-flowering, salmon-pink hybrid tea that dates back to the 1920s.
A Bloomfield Abundance bush will be up for auction at the evening banquet along with other rose rarities. A sale of 150 bushes propagated from the cemetery's gardens will be held at the conference during the day.
"Many people think there aren't any more roses to be found that haven't been found already," Clevenger said. "People think it's all been done but there's more. We're always learning.
"That's a large part of the garden," she added. "Maybe if you don't find a new rose someday, you're still constantly learning more about the roses you've got."
And taking time to enjoy their beauty.
TWO AUTUMN ROSE EVENTS
What: 50th annual Sierra Foothills Rose Society show
When: Noon-5 p.m. today
Where: Bushnell Gardens, 5255 Douglas Blvd., Granite Bay
Also: The public may enter home-grown cut roses for judging from 6:30-10 a.m. During the afternoon show, Bushnell Gardens is offering a 50 percent discount on rose bushes.
What: Historic Rose Garden Conference
When: 8 a.m. next Saturday
Where: California Auto Museum, 2200 Front St., Sacramento
Admission: $125 including lunch (preregistration required; see website for details)
Details: www.cemeteryrose.org, (916) 685-6634
Highlights: Hosted by Sacramento's Heritage Rose Group, this national conference spotlights efforts to preserve old- garden roses and specifically the Historic City Cemetery's world-famous rose collection, with many cultivars dating back to the 1800s.