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Gardens Gone Native goes online

Bees love spring, when the native plants start blooming. (Photos courtesy
Sacramento Valley chapter, California Native Plant Society)
Popular tour gets creative during coronavirus precautions

Gardens Gone Native is going virtual.

Instead of canceling this popular Sacramento-area garden tour, organizers decided to create an online equivalent, keeping patrons safe while still sharing the beauty of native plants.

“Everybody is doing everything from Zoom or on their computer, so why not?” said Colene Rauh of the Sacramento Valley chapter of the California Native Plant Society, which hosts the tour. “We’re going to include garden descriptions and label main plants. We hope to still provide information (to patrons).”

Because many of the featured plants bloom only in spring, rescheduling to summer or fall was not a realistic option. So, instead Sac Valley CNPS will present the virtual Gardens Gone Native Tour on the same date as the original in-person tour, April 25.

“We may even have it ready before that,” Rauh said. “Our hosts are taking photos of their gardens or having one of our volunteers take the photos. We have 26 gardens – just about everybody who originally planned to participate.”

The virtual tour will appear here:

That’s also where patrons can find background information and photos of past tours.

With another month of shutdowns planned, organizers sent out this message Sunday night:

“Due to the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order, the 2020 Gardens Gone Native Garden Tour has been converted to an online virtual tour. Images of the same gardens as well as garden descriptions will be available on April 25, 2020, and thereafter on our website.”

The free Gardens Gone Native Garden Tour each year attracts hundreds of people
to gardens in the region.
Now in its 10th year, Gardens Gone Native showcases local gardens with at least 50 percent native plants. Gardens participating this year are in Sacramento, Woodland, Davis. Citrus Heights, Granite Bay, Fair Oaks and Carmichael.

Last year, more than 1,200 people signed up to take the free tour.

“We already had 361 registrations a month before the tour, so there’s a lot of interest,” Rauh noted.

March rain has reinvigorated native gardens and brought out the blooms, she added.

“The gardens are looking good,” she said. “February was really dry, but we had quite a bit of rain in March. What kind of (native plant) season we have will depend on what happens between now and (late April).”

The important thing is keeping people healthy, Rauh noted, a sentiment echoed in the tour’s official statement:

“We regret the tour will not be able to move forward, however our primary concern is the health and safety of our wonderful tour supporters. We wish you all good health and hope to see you next year for the 11th annual Gardens Gone Native Garden Tour.”

Details: .


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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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