Debbie Arrington

Capitol Park rose garden ready for its close-ups

Capitol Park gets drought smart

Brian Ferguson, deputy director of the California Department of General Services, outlines water-saving changes for Sacramento's Capitol Park.
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Brian Ferguson, deputy director of the California Department of General Services, outlines water-saving changes for Sacramento's Capitol Park.

Drought or no drought, Capitol Park’s roses are ready for wedding season.

One of Sacramento’s most romantic places, the park’s World Peace Rose Garden burst into early bloom in early April.

“The blooming extravaganza is happening right now in the State Capitol World Peace Rose Garden,” said T.J. David, the garden’s co-creator. “It is a must-see experience. This year, the blooms are about a week early, too.”

Featuring more than 675 bushes in about 165 varieties, the Victorian-style landmark on 16th Street in Capitol Park is a favorite spot for proposals and weddings. Offering living bouquets, fragrant roses are arranged around a heart-shaped seating wall and covered patio, near a charming fountain and benches. Printed on stone markers, inspirational messages speak of peace and love.

Hundreds of weddings have been held in the rose garden, David noted. Because the garden is located in a state historic park, event permits and date reservations are handled by the California Highway Patrol. The rose garden is available for more than weddings, too.

“The State Capitol CHP Permits Office makes reservations for weddings and events in the World Peace Rose Garden,” David said. “It is a no-charge permit process in which you submit your information to the CHP for approval.”

In most cases, it’s first come, first reserved. For details and rose garden reservations, visit capitolpermits.chp.ca.gov/Home/Welcome.

While lawn may be coming out next to the Capitol building, the World Peace Rose Garden has kept its lush looks, thanks to careful water and soil management by David and Capitol Park staff. David’s drought-busting secret? Water-absorbing granules that hold moisture longer in the soil. He also uses abundant mulch for moisture conservation and a micro-jet irrigation system.

Meanwhile, the Capitol Park rose garden will soon have a new sister. A dedication is planned May 26 for the University Park World Peace Rose Garden at California and Magnolia streets in Stockton. For details, see worldpeacerosegardens.org.

Historic camellia saved

For generations of Sacramento babies, a majestic camellia stood watch outside the entrance at Sutter Memorial Hospital. For many infants (especially those born in February or early March), it may have been the first flower they ever saw.

Now, that beloved bush – believed by hospital staff to be the oldest camellia in Sacramento – will get a new home in the new Sutter Park housing development planned for the hospital’s former site. The old Sutter Memorial closed on Aug. 8, 2015, and the site will hold up to 120 homes.

Recently, work crews gingerly dug out the roots of the tree-size heritage camellia. With a crane, the huge shrub was gently lifted out of the ground. The Sutter Hospital camellia then relocated to a nearby nursery, where it will be safely kept until it can be transplanted back to near the same space it has grown for almost 80 years.

“We are very pleased to save this city treasure and are working with the developer of the Sutter Park neighborhood, StoneBridge Properties, to ensure that it is transplanted safely for future generations to enjoy,” said Mark Schaefer, assistant administrator for Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento.

The exact age of this shrub is uncertain, but it’s at least a century old, according to hospital staff. Dr. A.R. Boscoe, a Sacramento obstetrician, donated the already large bush to the then-new Sutter Maternity Hospital when it opened in 1937. At that time, the camellia was moved about a block from its original location at 28th and K streets.

Sutter Hospital history notes this camellia “has been identified as the oldest living camellia in Sacramento.” That makes it a pretty special plant in the “Camellia City.”

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