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Nature keeps us focused


This Tamora rose wins the title of first full-size rose to bloom in Debbie's garden this year. (Photos:  Debbie Arrington)

Flower photos chronicle garden; share some virtual blooms



How are you celebrating spring?

Nature has not slowed down during our home-bound shutdown. Instead, she’s full steam ahead, popping out flowers and pushing out green leaves. Everything seems to be growing rapidly, as you’d expect during a “normal” spring.

Clivia loves the shade.
While taking this forced timeout from life as usual, this is a good time to get in touch with your garden. Enjoy the slowdown and take notes about what’s growing. If you haven’t already, start a garden journal, jotting down when things sprout, flower, harvest dates and more.

Or just take photos. Make a visual record of what’s blooming when. Then, share those cellphone snapshots with your friends by email or social media as virtual bouquets.

It’s amazing how many smiles you can multiply with a pretty plant photo.

A dear friend, Jan Burke, started doing this snap-and-post exercise during an extremely stressful time in her life, gathering snapshots of flowers on her daily walk. Since then, she’s posted hundreds of flower photos to Facebook as daily pick-me-ups that are always well-received by her wide circle of friends. They always make me feel better.

As a gardener, I also appreciate the visual evidence the flower photos offer. For example, I know for certain that Tamora, an Austin shrub rose, was in bloom March 20 – first full-size rose in my garden this spring – and I have the photo to prove it.

Last weekend, I went through my garden, snapping photos of every flowering example, big or small. I came up with quite a list, including some that are blooming extra early and others that seem late.

Narcissus looks so cheery, even on cloudy days.
Two other roses, both minis, joined Tamora in bloom. My list also includes: angel’s trumpet, azaleas, begonias, camellias, calla lily, cymbidium, clivia, crassula, crocosmia, freesias, geraniums, grape hyacinths, hellebores, lilacs, narcissuses, dwarf quince, strawberries and white wood violets.

Next week, that list will be much longer. Nature will keep us focused on small joys and the positives in life.

What's blooming in your garden? Show us. Send us your snapshots and we'll share with our garden community, too.

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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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