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  • The Memorial Rose Garden, right, received an important renovation in 2012. Rosarians and volunteers will gather today for its first post- makeover pruning. Below, Brian Witherell will be on hand today to evaluate your antiques during a fundraiser for the Clunie Community Center. Lezlie Sterling Bee file, 2012

  • Linda Smolek Once threatened with closure, the Clunie Center instead was renovated thanks to volunteer efforts. An open house is today.

Seeds: Prune-a-thon at McKinley Memorial Rose Garden

Published: Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3CALIFORNIA LIFE
Last Modified: Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013 - 12:11 am

New years are all about renewal, a chance to start again. Like the Roman god Janus (which gave January its name), we can look forward while looking back.

Today at Sacramento's McKinley Park, two rites of renewal will be celebrated at local landmarks, nurtured back to health by the community. At one event, patrons may also discover the value of their own treasures.

Starting at 9 a.m., dozens of gardeners will attack the park's Memorial Rose Garden, attempting to prune more than 1,150 rose bushes before noon. Members of the Sacramento Rose Society along with Friends of East Sacramento volunteers will tackle the annual Prune-athon, which also serves as a hands-on workshop for anyone who wants to learn about rose pruning.

This will be the first major pruning since the 1.5- acre garden, originally planted 84 years ago, was renovated with new all- access paths, irrigation and signs. Hundreds of ailing bushes were replaced. New perennial beds were added. The project cost more than $343,000, raised mostly through park development fees and private donations.

Under an agreement with the city of Sacramento, the Friends of East Sacramento now oversees both the rose garden and the Clunie Community Center, another civic treasure at McKinley Park that desperately needed TLC.

Today, the Clunie Center will officially unveil its restoration. The Grand Hall's wood floors have been sanded and refinished. Its woodwork has regained its luster. New lighting brightens the repainted lobby and its copper-leaf ceiling.

"While the city had renovated the building in 1996, they did not have the funds for the needed upkeep," said Friends co-founder Cecily Hastings. "Because of budget cuts, much of the daily maintenance was not even being done, and the city had no money for any renovations."

Facing a major budget crisis, the city planned to shutter Clunie in 2012. Instead, the 76-year-old building looks better than it has in decades.

What's it worth?

As a fundraiser for more renovations, the Friends opted for something old – antique appraisals.

Brian Witherell, one of the featured appraisers on PBS' popular "Antiques Roadshow," volunteered to evaluate antiques and fine art from noon to 4 p.m. today at Clunie Center. Donations ($10 per item, three for $25) will support the center's renovations.

Such discovery days can help anyone gauge what they have – and what to do with it.

Antique "picking" – the art of spotting the gems among the junk – continues to gain popularity. As a natural spinoff of "Antiques Roadshow" and collecting, picking is the next step for collectors and modern-day treasure hunters.

Bene Raia, a Boston-based auctioneer, joins the cast of pickers on PBS' "Market Warriors," which debuts its new season at 9 p.m. Monday night on Channel 6. She has this advice for would-be pickers and collectors:

"Whether you're a buyer or a seller, do your research," Raia said in a phone interview. "Find out as much as you possibly can.

"If you're selling, you don't want to leave money on the table. … If you're buying, you don't want to pay too much."

The opportunity to get an expert evaluation at a bargain price can be an eye-opener.

"Ask questions," Raia added. "As a collector, you want to be well-educated and not afraid when you buy."

Or when you sell. All collectors eventually become sellers, Raia added. "You've got to make room for more."


Where: McKinley Park Memorial Rose Garden, H Street between Alhambra Boulevard and 33rd Street, Sacramento

When: 9 a.m.-noon today

Admission: Free

Details: (916) 799-6199,,

Help the Sacramento Rose Society renew the recently renovated public rose garden and prune more than 1,000 rose bushes in one morning. Learn from experts how to prune roses. Beginners welcome. Bring gloves and pruning shears. (Rain date: Jan. 19.)


Where: Grand Hall, Clunie Community Center, 601 Alhambra Blvd., Sacramento

When: Noon-4 p.m. today

Cost: $10 per item, three for $25 (limit three)

Details: www.insidepublications. org, (916) 452-8011

Nationally known appraiser Brian Witherell will evaluate items with proceeds benefiting the restoration of Clunie Center.


Where: Clunie Community Center, 601 Alhambra Blvd., Sacramento

When: Noon-4 p.m. today

Cost: Free

Details: www.insidepublications. org, (916) 452-8011

See the newly refurbished 76-year-old community center. At 3 p.m., archivist Amanda Graham of the Sacramento Public Library will present a history of the center and the McKinley Library.

ON TV: "Market Warriors" featuring Bene Raia at 9 p.m. Monday on Channel 6.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Debbie Arrington

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