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This flower 'bed' is now in bloom

Sojourner Truth Park home to wildflower art installation

Red poppies
These red poppies are now the stars of the flower "bed"
at Sojourner Truth Park. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)



Nature doesn’t color inside the lines. What once looked like carefully crafted blocks of seed squares has yielded a crazy quilt of calico colors.

Spring (and a little irrigation) brought out the wildflowers planted in a “bed” at Sojourner Truth Park in Sacramento’s Greenhaven neighborhood. The seeds were sown in handmade paper quilt squares fastened in place last November by internationally known artist Jane Ingram Allen with the help of Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Councilman Rick Jennings.

Allen has made such flower beds blanketed with seed quilts around the globe. As she noted during its pre-Thanksgiving installation, nature makes the magic happen.

“I’m putting a quilt down to cover the Earth,” she said during the planting ceremony. “It will change over time. Nature will control it.”

Allen used the North Star quilt design, as a nod to the park’s namesake Sojourner Truth, a former slave, abolitionist and suffragist.

“The North Star was part of the secret code for escaping slaves,” Allen explained. “If they saw this quilt hanging outdoors, they knew which way was north—the way to freedom.”

But when the flowers bloomed this spring, it was difficult to tell any design. Instead, the bed bloomed in waves.

In late March, white sweet alyssum flowers popped out on the white bands that bordered each quilt square. Next, yellow tidytips bloomed in their little triangles, edging politely into the neighboring spaces. Then, the golden California poppies filled in the quilt’s center with a sprinkling of bright bluebonnets and lupines.

Quilt pattern of seed papers
Here's the planting design for the flower bed last November.
Below: What it looks like now.
Now, the quilt is a mass of red poppies, buzzing with bees. Purple sweet peas wind up the woven mulberry canes and grapevines that form the bed’s head and footboards. Those trellises were made by members of the Sacramento Weavers and Spinners Guild.

The neat outlines of the quilt blocks are only a memory as nature paints with a broader brush.

“With time, the color pattern will become very abstract,” Allen predicted. “That’s nature’s way.”

See for yourself. Located on Gloria Drive, the park is open daily dawn to dusk.

On Earth Day, Allen sent us a reminder about the display and to urge others to check it out, too. “I thought people might enjoy going to see the spectacular wildflowers blooming now in Spring 2021!” she said.

For more on Allen’s living art, check out her website, too: http://www.janeingramallen.com/

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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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