Update on Sacramento Historic Rose Garden

By Anita Clevenger, Historic Rose Garden Curator

On Feb 19, 2016, the City of Sacramento issued guidelines for gardens in the Sacramento Historic City Cemetery that required removal of all trellises in the Historic Rose Garden. Climbing roses are one of the hallmarks of this garden, and their removal to a perimeter fence would greatly diminish its character and educational value. Garden volunteers were given until March 19 to comply, or to get a plan approved to move all roses and remove all trellises no later than 1 Dec.

The public had never been informed of this plan. When the Sacramento Bee wrote an article about trellis removal, people protested from across the community and throughout the rose world. The support and love for the garden that they expressed is very heartwarming.

Councilmember Steve Hansen asked the City Manager for a moratorium on rose relocation until the matter can be resolved. The Sacramento Preservation Commission, who oversees the management of historic properties, has put the matter on their April 13th agenda.

Based on these actions, we did not submit a plan for relocation of roses and removal of trellises until the matter is resolved. We have learned that there is no requirement to remove them to retain historic designation. City staff claims that the trellises were not authorized, but in fact rebar arches were installed with verbal approval from then-City Historian Jim Henley, and
another eight trellises were built and installed by City staff. There seems to be no legitimate reason for their removal.

Nothing has been resolved, but we hope that the process can start fresh, developing flexible guidelines in full partnership with garden volunteers. Other guideline provisions, such as a requirement that monuments be seen from any direction, also need to be changed. We believe it is possible to have some general guidelines that protect the cemetery and its beautiful gardens alike.

Over the past 30 years, volunteers turned the cemetery from a barren and lifeless place into lush gardens in the spirit of the Victorian garden cemetery that it once was. We are fighting to keep it that way.

Refer to the fact sheet for more information and for who to contact. If you have not written to Sacamento City Council, please do so. If you have and are not satisfied with your reply, write again.

Fact Sheet

Cemetery roses turn into prickly issue

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