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Arboretum's garden gnomes here to help

"Ask the Garden Gnomes" is a twice-weekly garden "talk show" on Facebook Live. (Photo  UC Davis Arboretum)

UCD Arboretum tries creative outreach during COVID crisis

It’s not quite “Walk with Warren,” but it’s Arboretum garden fun during COVID-19 restrictions.

Twice a week, the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden hosts its own garden talk show, “Ask the Garden Gnomes.” Streamed on Facebook Live, the program invites viewers to ask gardening questions as well as showcases the natural world inside the Arboretum.

It’s free, fun and educational with something for gardeners of all ages.

The one-hour shows stream live at 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. The next gnome adventure is set for 10 a.m. Thursday, May 21.

Details and links:

Meanwhile, the Arboretum’s popular events such as guided tours with Superintendent Emeritus Warren Roberts and plant sales are still on hold. Organizers hope those restrictions will be lifted soon. Stay posted with the arboretum’s newsletter, “The Leaflet”; sign up here:

Although group events have been canceled until further notice, the arboretum is still open daily to visitors and monitored by personnel. Patrons are asked to practice social distancing and stay at least 6 feet apart.

Where to start your arboretum exploration? Two interns, Kelly Nishimura and Wyatt Garrett, created a fun way to see a lot of the campus’s public gardens: “Arboretum Bingo.” (Details: ). See the arboretum and share it with friends via social media. It’s an entertaining game for kids, too, as well as a creative way to keep people engaged with the gardens when the normal way of doing things won’t work.

Along that same line, another intern, Madissen Hamberlin, created “May Madness: California Native Plant Showdown.” This online game asks patrons to vote for their favorite native flora via Facebook and Instagram. (Can the poppy take it all?) Details:

The arboretum’s interns are part of its Leading by Learning program. While classes have moved online, interns are working on educational and environmental projects including these entertaining social media introductions to the arboretum and its vast plant collections.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to help corral blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.

To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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