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Grow a gorgeous garden and save water, too

Master gardeners present free online workshop

Yellow butterfly
A western tiger swallowtail enjoys the ambiance of a trailing lantana. Low-water gardens can be beautiful. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

How do you balance garden beauty with fire safety? How do you support bees and butterflies while saving water? (And what can survive our summer heat while still looking good?)

As our climate gets drier, those gardening challenges become harder, especially in communities with limited water. Who knows what to plant to fulfill all these needs?

Master gardeners do! See their suggestions and learn how to master this gardening dilemma during a special free workshop. It's open to anyone with an internet connection.

Set for 9 a.m. Saturday, June 26, “Gorgeous Low-Water Gardening” features the expertise of foothill master gardeners, who have the challenge of providing defensible space for wildfire protection.

Presented by the UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners of Amador County in cooperation with the UCCE Master Gardeners of El Dorado County, this 90-minute online class will explore options and challenges of low-water gardening.

“So, you want a beautiful garden up here in the Sierra Foothills,” say the organizers. “You want to attract butterflies and bees, but you also want to be fire-safe and, of course, drought tolerant due to our long, hot summers and increasing drought periods.”

Like the drought period we appear to be in again.

“Well, things just got pretty tricky!!” they added. “You need advice and direction from the experts! Join our Master Gardeners who will share tips and tricks, review various plant choices and discuss water management for your beautiful creation.”

Registration is free, but required. Participants can sign up anytime before and during the session. You will receive the link to the session in the registration confirmation email. To register:

More details:


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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Jan. 29

Bundle up and get work done!

* Prune, prune, prune. Now is the time to cut back most deciduous trees and shrubs. The exceptions are spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs.

* Now is the time to prune fruit trees, except apricot and cherry trees. Clean up leaves and debris around the trees to prevent the spread of disease.

* Prune roses, even if they’re still trying to bloom or sprouting new growth. Strip off any remaining leaves, so the bush will be able to put out new growth in early spring.

* Prune Christmas camellias (Camellia sasanqua), the early-flowering varieties, after their bloom. They don’t need much, but selective pruning can promote bushiness, upright growth and more bloom next winter. Feed with an acid-type fertilizer. But don’t feed your Japonica camellias until after they finish blooming next month. Feeding while camellias are in bloom may cause them to drop unopened buds.

* Clean up leaves and debris around your newly pruned roses and shrubs. Put down fresh mulch or bark to keep roots cozy.

* Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective.

* This is also the time to spray a copper-based oil to peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl. Avoid spraying on windy days.

* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.

* Plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs.

* Transplant pansies, violas, calendulas, English daisies, snapdragons and fairy primroses.

* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.

* Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.

* In the bulb department, plant callas, anemones, ranunculus and gladiolus for bloom from late spring into summer.

* Plant blooming azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. If you’re shopping for these beautiful landscape plants, you can now find them in full flower at local nurseries.

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