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Shepard Center is Sacramento's hub for spring plant sales, shows

Find unusual plants, garden wares while supporting local vendors and clubs

Stunning golden bamboo is one of the plants sold by Mad Man Bamboo Nursery of Rocklin, which is one of the specialty plant vendors Saturday at the Gardener's Market on Saturday.

Stunning golden bamboo is one of the plants sold by Mad Man Bamboo Nursery of Rocklin, which is one of the specialty plant vendors Saturday at the Gardener's Market on Saturday. Courtesy Mad Man Bamboo

Spring is in the air (if not actually here), which means the gardening bug is biting hard.

One of the best places to scratch that itch: The Shepard Garden and Arts Center.

Three weekends in March, the center – which is home to about two dozen local garden clubs – hosts major plant and garden sales (including one combined show and sale). That’s followed by three more flower shows and/or sales in April. Admission to every one of these events is free.

That spring spree starts in earnest Saturday, March 9, with the Sacramento Perennial Plant Club’s Gardener’s Market. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the center will be packed with plants from small specialty nurseries plus unique garden wares from local sellers.

Crazy about bamboo? Mad Man Bamboo Nursery of Rocklin is one of those specialty nurseries that will be selling plants Saturday. Owner Sean Bigley says he usually participates in only two public sales a year, and this is one of them. He grows unusual and colorful bamboos, most of them clumping varieties and well behaved. (They’re a must for Asian-themed gardens.)

Other popular plant vendors at Saturday’s sale include Morningsun Herb Farm (which offers a lot more than herbs), Geraniaceae (the rare geraniums specialist), Golden Pond Water Plants (water lilies, anyone?), Martin Palomar Plants and Art (succulents as living art) and The OG-Cacti & Succulents (like their name says).

Here’s a snapshot of other upcoming Shepard Center events:

* Shepard Spring Sale, March 16-17: All clubs that call Shepard home plus local vendors take part in this two-day sale. Find plants, jewelry, crafts, art, flowers, books and more. Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. March 16, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. March 17.

* Sacramento Valley Cymbidium Show and Sale, March 23: This annual show and sale features gorgeous outdoor orchids in full bloom – plus plenty to take home. Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

* Capital City African Violet Society sale and display, April 6: See beautiful African violets in a display of members’ plants. Learn about violet care from members. Then, shop for plants for your indoor garden. Hundreds will be available, but they sell out early! Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

* 64th annual Bonsai Show and Sale, April 13-14: Presented by the American Bonsai Association, Sacramento, this event showcases amazing “little trees in pots” plus everything you need to grow your own. Bonsai master Tyler Sherrod will give demonstrations each day. Beginner workshops also are available. Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. both days.

* 76th annual Sacramento Rose Show, April 27: Hosted by the Sacramento Rose Society, this huge flower show fills Shepard Center with blooms at their height of beauty. See (and smell) the roses and admire the creative rose arrangements. Member-grown cut roses are offered for sale. Hours: 1-4:30 p.m.

Shepard Center is located at 3330 McKinley Blvd., Sacramento, in McKinley Park.

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Garden Checklist for week of June 23

Get to work in the mornings while it’s still cool.

* Irrigate early in the day; your plants will appreciate it.

* Generally, tomatoes need deep watering two to three times a week, but don't let them dry out completely. That can encourage blossom-end rot.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the early hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Avoid pot “hot feet.” Place a 1-inch-thick board under container plants sitting on pavement. This little cushion helps insulate them from radiated heat.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants. Mulch to conserve moisture and reduce heat stress.

* Cut back Shasta daisies after flowering to encourage a second bloom in the fall.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, melons, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes. 

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

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