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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, .

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: .


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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Oct. 2

Plan to make the most of the mild weather in your garden.

* October is the best month to plant trees and shrubs.

* October also is the best time to plant perennials in our area. Add a little well-aged compost and bone meal to planting holes or beds, but hold off on other fertilizers until spring. Keep the transplants well-watered (but not wet) for the first month as they become settled.

* Now is the time to plant seeds for many flowers directly into the garden, including cornflower, nasturtium, nigella, poppy, portulaca, sweet pea and stock.

* Plant seeds for radishes, bok choy, mustard, spinach and peas.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Set out cool-weather bedding plants, including calendula, pansy, snapdragon, primrose and viola.

* Reseed and feed the lawn. Work on bare spots.

* Dig up corms and tubers of gladioluses, dahlias and tuberous begonias after the foliage dies. Clean and store in a cool, dry place.

* Treat azaleas, gardenias and camellias with chelated iron if leaves are yellowing between the veins.

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