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Roses (and rose gardens) fill Sacramento with romance

Sacramento's Historic City Cemetery will host several rose-related events this month including its popular Open Gardens Day on April 14.
Sacramento's Historic City Cemetery will host several rose-related events this month including its popular Open Gardens Day on April 14. Bee file photo

April in Sacramento? Move over, Paris; this month is spectacularly romantic in Sacramento area gardens.

In particular, roses tend to be at their best this time of year. America’s favorite flower will be in the spotlight at several special events overflowing April into May. And the best part? Admission to most of these events is free.

Besides enjoying these fragrant flowers, gardeners can learn a lot about growing roses at these events – and often can take some home, too.

Start with the Historic City Cemetery, 1000 Broadway, Sacramento. It will host its annual Open Gardens Day and rose sale from 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, April 14, and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, April 15 (sale only).

See the cemetery’s famous Heritage Rose Garden at its peak bloom, featuring more than 500 rare roses. Tours will offered at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. plus a history tour at 11 a.m. Docents also will be present in the cemetery’s Hamilton Square perennial garden and the California Native Plant Demonstration Garden. In addition, hundreds of rose plants – propagated from the cemetery’s collection – will be offered for sale Saturday and Sunday.

At 2 p.m. Sunday, the Heritage Rose Garden will host a public memorial service for one of its founders. Jean Travis, who died last month at age 96, donated about 40 bushes to the garden’s initial collection.

For folks who can’t get enough old garden roses, the cemetery’s Heritage Rose Garden will host a series of special Sunday afternoon tours at 1 p.m. April 22, 29 and May 5. These rose walks are “a chance for people to learn about Teas and Bourbons – and many other varieties – without being driven to drink,” quipped rose garden curator Anita Clevenger, who will act as guide.

Bring somebody you love to “Romance and Roses,” a special twilight tour of the cemetery’s gardens with costumed docents and passionate tales from Sacramento’s past. This fundraiser helps support the gardens and monument restoration. Tickets ($20) are limited and not available at the gate. Get yours online at https://romanceroses.bpt.me/.

The Woodland Library Rose Club, which has its own award-winning collection of heritage roses, will host a rose garden party with a twist. Set for 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 14, “Petals and Pets” will feature a flower-themed “Strut Your Mutt” dog parade at 1:15 p.m. through the library’s garden. Meanwhile, docents will answer questions about roses and pet-friendly gardening. The event supports the Yolo County Animal Shelter. The garden is located next to the library, 250 First St., in historic old Woodland.

Rounding out April, the Sacramento Rose Society hosts its 70th annual rose show at the Shepard Garden and Arts Center from 1 to 5 p.m. April 28 at the Shepard Garden and Arts Center, 3330 McKinley Blvd., Sacramento. See hundreds of flowers at their best. Fresh home-grown bouquets will be offered for sale.

And while you’re there, check out the nearby McKinley Park Memorial Rose Garden. As seen in the popular movie “Lady Bird,” this romantic setting has never looked better.

Elsewhere in the April garden:

  • In the vegetable garden, you can plant seeds for lima and snap beans, beets, carrots, celery, chard, cucumbers, endive, fennel, jicama, melons, mustard, okra, potatoes, radish, soybeans, spinach, summer and winter squash, turnips and watermelon.
  • Transplant lettuce and cabbage seedlings. Plant seed potatoes.
  • Start to set out tomatoes as ground temperatures warm. Tomatoes need nighttime temperatures above 50 degrees. Wait on peppers and eggplants until early May; they like it hotter.
  • Flowers that can be planted from seed directly into the garden include alyssum, aster, celosia, cosmos, four o’clocks, marigold, morning glory, periwinkle, portulaca, salvia, sunflower, verbena and zinnia.
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