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Foothill iris farm open for visitors

Bluebird Haven Iris Garden in south El Dorado County wine country

Sacramento Digs Gardening logo
Sacramento Digs Gardening
PUBLISHED MAY 7, 2021 1:46 P.M.
Gazebo with many pink, white, yellow irises in the foreground
Bluebird Haven in Somerset features more than 100,000 bearded irises in bloom. (Photo courtesy Mary Hess)

Here’s another little road trip that will delight flower fans (including moms).

Bluebird Haven Iris Garden is now in full bloom with more than 100,000 bearded irises flying their colorful flags.

Located at 6940 Fairplay Road in Somerset, Bluebird is about an hour’s drive east from Sacramento in the wine country of southern El Dorado County.

“Bluebird Haven Iris Garden is a Victorian show garden in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California,” explains owner Mary Hess. “An acre of landscaped iris, daffodils, wildflowers, and a variety of shrubs and trees are surrounded by acres of row-cultivated iris.”

“This year, we plan to be open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for four weekends starting April 28 and the last day will be May 23, depending on bloom,” says Hess. “Usually the first or second weekend in May is our peak bloom time.”

Admission is $5 per person. Kids under 12 admitted free. Due to COVID-19, plan to wear a face mask and maintain social distancing.

Hess sells her irises, too. Bring paper and pencil (or pen) to jot down your favorite varieties, then place your order via her website, www.bluebirdhavenirisgarden.com .

Hess started her iris garden in 1967. She’s been planting more varieties, often by the dozen, every year ever since and now has hundreds in every color and combination imaginable.

“Our garden features a Victorian gazebo, park benches, paths for viewing and selecting your favorite irises, and picnic tables for a leisurely lunch,” Hess said on her website. “We have a wide selection of outstanding iris varieties for you to choose from, featuring both antique and moderns.”

Hess invites visitors to enjoy her bountiful garden.

“We will have scattered benches and a few tables to sit at in family groups but there are no trash cans here for your garbage,” she notes. “Pack it in, pack it out. ”

Questions? Call 530-620-5017.

Driving time from Sacramento is about one hour. Here are the directions, according to Hess: “From Sacramento, take Highway 16 east to Plymouth. Follow the signs to River Pines via E16 by turning right at the roundabout in Plymouth, stay on the main road, Highway 16. Turn right onto Fairplay Road, and watch for our sign.”

Details: www.bluebirdhavenirisgarden.com .




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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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