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Pruning native shrubs? Small-space gardening? There's a class for that

Calendar is filling up with informational events

Yellow flower on flannelbush
California flannelbush is a spectacular native shrub. But how to prune it? The California Native Plant Society presents a webinar tonight on pruning natives.
(Photo: Kathy Morrison)

What do you want to learn? Which gardening situations do you want to understand better? There's so much information out there, but the trick is learning things that actually apply to our climate and our nearly year-round way of gardening. (Much of U.S. has gardens buried under snow right now.)

The region's garden calendars are suddenly packed with free opportunities to expand garden knowledge. Some are in person, others are online webinars. Here are a few coming up in the next couple weeks. Others we will flag as they get a little closer.

-- Native Gardening: Pruning 101. Move fast if you want to watch this one: It's tonight (Thursday, Feb. 3) at 5:30 p.m., presented by the California Native Plant Society. Expert landscape and educator Emerson Funes will go over tips and tricks for pruning native shrubs and perennials. Register here:

That CNPS webinars page has a list of other webinars scheduled monthly through May, with topics such as Aromatic Plants and Therapy Gardens. Links to recordings of past talks also are listed. A great resource.

-- Lettuce Unite! This seed library/seed-saving Zoom workshop is presented by the Placer County master gardeners. 1 to 2 p.m., this Saturday, Feb. 5. In case you missed Debbie's earlier post on this, here's the link to the post. The Placer County master gardeners are at

-- Gardening in Small Backyard Spaces. 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Feb. 9. This is a mid-week in-person workshop offered by the El Dorado County master gardeners. Master gardener Mike Pavlick will cover site location, design, raised bed options, container gardening and other methods that will allow anyone to have a vegetable garden in a small backyard setting. The workshop location is Cameron Park Community Center, 2502 Country Club Drive, Cameron Park.

For general information on the El Dorado County master gardeners' events and Sherwood Demonstration Garden, go to (Psst: They already have plant sales scheduled, on April 16 and 30.)

-- February Open Garden. The Sacramento County master gardeners will be back at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center for the second Open Garden of winter, 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Feb. 12. The fruit trees will be starting to bud, bulbs popping up, and the vegetable garden will be transitioning to spring. Bring your curiosity! FOHC is at 11549 Fair Oaks Blvd., Fair Oaks.

The next Open Garden after this one will be Saturday, March 12. In April, the Wednesday mid-week Open Garden will return after a long absence,  9 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, April 13. And May will feature two Open Gardens: Saturday, May 14, and Wednesday, May 18. The latter will be an "evening" event from 4 to 7 p.m. The Sacramento County master gardener website is

-- Citrus Tree Care in the Foothills. 10:30 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 12. Citrus can be a perplexing topic. This Zoom class from the Placer County master gardeners will cover the basics of selecting a tree, planting, irrigating, fertilizing, and pruning. No registration is necessary. The Zoom link is and the passcode is garden.

-- Urban and Community IPM Webinar. This free monthly series on integrated pest management continues noon to 1p.m. Thursday, Feb. 17, with "Bed Bug Prevention." Other topics coming up: "IPM for Subterranean Termites" on March 17 and "Squirrel Pest Management" on April 21. That latter one will be popular with backyard vegetable growers, I'm sure. Webinar registration and information is here:


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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