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Take a holiday home tour -- and help a cause

Inspirational decorations fill each stop of  El Dorado
Homes for the Holidays tours. (Photo courtesy
Assistance League of Sierra Foothills.)

Rain or shine, these tours spark inspiration

A little (or a lot) of rain can’t dampen this holiday spirit.

Two major holiday home tours will be held this weekend, boosting the greater Sacramento area’s seasonal spirit.

Today patrons were already out walking the streets of Sacramento’s Fabulous Forties during the 46th annual Sacred Heart Holiday Home Tour. One of the largest events of its kind in our area, this tour regularly attracts more than 5,000 people, who stroll through the grand neighborhood to see five homes decked out in holiday splendor.

This isn’t the first time there’s been rain on this neighborhood parade. Preparations include contingencies for rain, umbrellas and wet feet. Refreshments (including some warm beverages) will be offered at the Sacred Heart Parish School, which also will host a huge boutique of locally sourced products and a Champagne Bar. (Admission to the boutique is free.)

The Sacred Heart Tour continues 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8. Tickets ($30) are available at , Sacred Heart School, 856 39th St., and the first home on the tour, 1370 46th St. Proceeds support programs and scholarships to Sacred Heart.

In El Dorado Hills, Homes for the Holidays celebrates its 10th year on Dec. 7 and 8. Hosted by the Assistance League of Sierra Foothills, this popular tour raises funds for disadvantaged and homeless children and families. Spectacular homes are decked out in equally eye-popping style, inspiring many a holiday decorating project. In addition, this tour offers a raffle with outrageous prizes and a boutique of handmade gifts.

Tour hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets ($25 for adults, $10 for children) are available at .


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

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

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

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

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

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

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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