To Gary Doerr of Sacramento, it's the ultimate plant prize.
"I'm walking on clouds," said Doerr, owner of Blooms of Bressingham. "It's a pretty significant honor considering the thousands of plants that have ever been reviewed by the Royal Horticultural Society and shown at the Chelsea Flower Show."
Rozanne, the blue hybrid geranium championed by Doerr's company, recently earned the distinction as the Chelsea Flower Show's "Plant of the Centenary." In honor of the famed British show's 100th birthday, the geranium was chosen by fans in a worldwide online vote to represent a century of great gardening accomplishments.
The secret to the geranium's success is simple, Doerr said.
"Rozanne is a plant for everyone everywhere," he said. "It does so well in such a wide range of regions, in the U.K. and Europe of course, but I've got it in my own Sacramento backyard, and it does fantastic. I saw the first bloom April 16, and it will keep blooming through frost."
In the Sacramento area, Rozanne is available primarily through mail order from such sources as Geraniaceae.com, Doerr said.
With bright violet-blue flowers streaked with thin red lines, Rozanne is a head-turner. Rozanne and Donald Waterer, a retired couple, first discovered the natural hybrid growing in their English country garden more than 20 years ago. They showed it to garden designer Adrian Bloom, co-founder of Blooms of Bressingham.
The rest is garden history.
"I call Rozanne the 'little engine that could' of the plant world," Doerr said. "We persevered. It was never a straight line. We tested that plant for more than 10 years before we offered it for sale. But now, the garden world has spoken. There won't be another Chelsea Plant of the Centenary for another 100 years."
City has plots
Sacramento's community gardens keep growing. On June 1, ground was broken on the latest addition to the city's network of urban mini-farms. As a living inspiration for healthy eating, this new garden is a joint project of the UC Davis Medical Center and the city of Sacramento.
On 49th Street behind the medical center complex, the garden will reserve half its plots for UC Davis employees and doctors in residence, explained Bill Maynard, Sacramento's community garden coordinator. "The other half of the plots will be for the public. A total of 20 small plots will be available to rent."
In addition, the garden also will feature eight fruit trees, a composting area, table, tool locker and herb garden, he said. The UC Davis garden will be fully operational by the end of summer in time for fall and winter planting.
Can't wait? Sacramento has space available at several of its other community gardens.
"There's still plenty of time to get a plot and plant!" Maynard said. "It makes a great summer activity for families."
The annual cost including water is $25 to $75, depending on garden location. Plot sizes range from 10by 10 feet to 20 by 20 feet. Maynard offers free seeds for new members, too.
If you'd like more details, contact Maynard at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (916) 808-4943.
In addition to the UC Davis garden, there are plots open for Sacramento residents at:
Bill Bean Jr. Park Community Garden, 7400 17th Ave., Sacramento;
Camellia Park Community Garden, 6650 Cougar Drive, southeast Sacramento;
Martin Luther King Jr. Community Garden, 3668 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. at 12th Avenue, Oak Park;
Sparrow Community Garden, 3219 Sparrow Drive, North Natomas;
Strauch Park Community Garden, 3075 Northstead Drive, South Natomas;
Valley Hi Park Community Garden, 8185 Center Parkway, south Sacramento; and
Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, 4641 Marconi Ave., Sacramento.
Sacramento's Habitat for Humanity needs drills, hammers, screwdrivers, sanders and much more. The nonprofit group, which is about to start construction of a 14-unit development for low-income families, hopes a one-week drive will replenish its tool chest.
Thieves recently stole more than $3,000 worth of tools from the organization. In addition, many of the remaining tools are worn out.
In honor of Father's Day, the tool drive will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today through next Saturday at the Sacramento Habitat Re-Store, 819 N. 10th St., Sacramento. Local Home Depot outlets also will be collecting tool donations. For locations and a tool "wish list," click on www.shfh.org.
Call The Bee's Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075. Follow her on Twitter @debarrington.