Main Content

It’s a Pruning Party at the Santa Barbara Rose Garden!


A.C. Postel Memorial Rose Garden, located adjacent to the Santa Barbara Mission, invites the public to one of the premier community events of the season: The Big Bloom by the Old Mission

Photo Credit: Summers Case

A.C. Postel Memorial Rose Garden, located adjacent to the Santa Barbara Mission, invites the public to one of the premier community events of the season ‑ The Big Bloom by the Old Mission – where volunteers are needed to help prune more than 1,500 rose plants. The annual event takes place this Saturday, January 11, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Annual pruning is a vital element of rose plant care. It opens the center of the plant, promoting good air circulation, and removes dead, frost-damaged and diseased stems, which lays the groundwork for a healthy growing season. In warmer climate gardens like ours, pruning creates a period of forced dormancy so the roses can rest before the growing season gets into full swing in the Spring.

READ: Lotusland: One of the World’s 10 Best Gardens

Flora and fauna have a long beautiful history in Santa Barbara. Scattered throughout the destination, parks and gardens offer residents their own pocket of paradise to spend the afternoon, take a stroll, encounter breathtaking city views, or volunteer and get their hands dirty. And when it comes to roses, one could say we’re spoiled in Santa Barbara because our extended flowering season guarantees roses in bloom for nine months of the year. Although our climate suits other flowering plants as well, when compared to roses, their season is limited. 

The Rose Society

For years, volunteers have helped to maintain the flowers at the Santa Barbara rose garden, headed by members of the Rose Society, along with Parks Division staff. The Rose Society is a non-profit devoted to sharing knowledge about roses, rose culture and the pleasure of rose gardening. Find out how to become a member here.

READ: Around The World Ideas for Santa Barbara Gardens

Pruning the flowering bushes every year is quite an undertaking. To get it done, the Rose Society recruits volunteer pruners from the area and asks them to bring gloves, secateurs, and steady hands so that these beautiful rose bushes will flourish following their winter trim.

“Every year there are comments made about how magnificent the roses look when they bloom after each pruning, and every year we think they look better than the year before,” said Parks Supervisor Ramiro Arroyo, complimenting the hours donated by volunteers every year. He stresses that those who are novice pruners are invited to come early to the Santa Barbara Rose Garden for a lesson.

History of The A.C. Postel Memorial Rose Garden

In 1955, the Santa Barbara rose garden began with a donation of 500 choice rose bushes. In 1959, the Santa Barbara Rose Society was formed, and in 1962 the society asked the city park commission to sponsor the garden.  

The roses at the garden flourished until 1976 when the implementation of Proposition 13 caused a substantial cut in funding for the Santa Barbara Parks Department. At that time, the rose garden lost its full-time gardener. The garden began to deteriorate due to lack of care, and by 1980, it was in such bad shape that many locals suggested a solution: bulldoze the roses and replace them with tennis courts. Luckily, that did not happen.

Volunteer getting his hands dirty at the annual rose pruning party in Santa Barbara

Photo Credit: CITY OF SANTA BARBARA, Parks & Recreation

Volunteers to the Rescue

In 1982 a committee was formed to save the rose garden. Within two years of that commitment, the Virginia Firth Wade Endowment Fund donated $35,000 of the $51,000 needed to restore the garden on the condition that it be renamed the “A. C. Postel Memorial Rose Garden.” The Foundation donates $5,000 annually to assist in the maintenance of the garden. There is now a part-time gardener, regular fertilization, watering, and grooming to maintain its first-rate status.


In the past, our Santa Barbara rose garden was recognized as the #2 municipal rose garden in the nation. That distinction is due to both the excellence of the garden’s maintenance and the beauty of its location.

READ: Mosquito Repellent Plants: Relief in Our Santa Barbara Gardens

Through the dedication of the Rose Society along with the local City Parks Department, the A.C. Postel Memorial Rose Garden has been awarded garden accreditation from the All-America Rose Selections Committee. This special honor provides the city garden with the All-America Rose Selections donated by growers a year before the varieties are offered to the general public. Each year these beautiful, award-winning introductions are on display and in January, are in bad need of pruning.

The All-American Rose Selections has consistently designated the A.C. Postel Memorial Rose Garden as one of 130+ demonstration rose gardens throughout the country. Displayed are the top-performing new rose varieties developed and selected each year after an extensive two-year trial program where they are judged on 15 characteristics – from disease resistance and flower production to color and fragrance.  A significant portion of the roses displayed in the garden are past A.A.R.S. winners.

Wouldn’t you like to be one of the volunteers who helps maintain the beautiful Santa Barbara rose garden? If the answer is yes, please call the Parks Department at (805) 564-5433 or just show up this Saturday.

This magnificent place of Santa Barbara beauty is just one more reason to live here. So . . . if you’re considering a move to, or within Santa Barbara give me a call at (805) 886-9378 or email me at I’ll happily add your home to my portfolio of fine properties and help you find the perfect family home in the area at the same time. See you at The Big Bloom by the Old Mission!


Please follow and like us:
Follow by Email
Visit Us
Follow Me
Trigger Page Preview Option Popup
Page Preview Save

Enjoying Cristal's blog & listings? Please spread the word :)