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Tuesday, 01 November 2022

Coming Up Roses, Sacramento, California

Written by Cynthia Gentry
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Nestled in a corner of McKinley Park is the Frederick N. Evans Memorial Rose Garden. Over 1,200 varieties of roses grace 1.5 acres of land set in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Sacramento, California.

 

 

In the early 1870s, the former East Park was privately owned in an undeveloped area of the city. The Sacramento Trolley System purchased the land with the idea of increasing streetcar traffic to the area. The surrounding 30-acre park became the largest recreation area in the city. At that time, the grounds housed picnic grounds, a baseball field, a shooting gallery, and even a zoo.

 

MP Vintage 

 

A group of influential women known as the “Tuesday Club” convinced the city to purchase the land in 1902 for $12,500. The park was named in honor of President William McKinley who had been assassinated the previous year.

 

Beginning in 1916, a free Auto Camp hosted campers offering free water, fuel, showers, and Dutch ovens for cooking. In the summer of 1921, 20,000 folks stayed at the camp. While the attraction brought in substantial revenue to local merchants, residents complained that campers often exceeded the seven-day limit and the camp closed in 1925.

 

MP Auto Camp 1916 1925

 

Frederick N. Evans was Sacramento’s first parks superintendent. Armed with a landscape architecture degree from Harvard, in 1929 Evans set out to “make the garden a showplace of the city park system.” Using the space that had once been a running track, Evans experimented with various varieties of roses that would thrive in the hot Sacramento summers. His plan included labeling the roses with both their English and Latin names. He wanted it to be an educational garden “where Sacramentans interested in flowers and plants may come and study their culture.”

 

Rose Garden Entrance

 

Rose 1 

 

On Dec. 13, 1946, the garden was named after Evans in honor of his service and dedication. Today, the garden serves as a memorial not only to Evans, but to people who have loved the area over the many decades. Strolling through the roses with the birds singing overhead, it’s a place of peace and tranquility. Pausing to sit on one of the benches and immerse yourself in the atmosphere, you’ll find heart-felt tributes such as…

 

· To celebrate the life of Joanne Janice Strong De Bacco—forever roses.

 

· In memory of our daughter Wendy Tucker who found peace in this rose garden.

 

· A place for remembering Barbara Cavanaugh—our special mom who taught us the important things in life…live, laugh, love, and smell the roses along the way.

 

So, if your travels take you to Sacramento, California, be sure to stop by McKinley Park and enjoy all the grounds have to offer but do save some time to spend among the roses. 

 

Rose 2 

 

©Cynthia Gentry

 

 

 

 

 

Last modified on Tuesday, 01 November 2022

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