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Time to buy, plant new irises

This unusual bronze bearded iris grew from a rhizome
purchased at an earlier Iris Society sale. (Photo: Debbie

Find hundreds of varieties at annual sale this weekend

Got iris? This popular flower may be the ultimate low-water spring perennial for Sacramento. It blooms year after year with little (if any) extra irrigation or care.

Bearded iris is a great choice for the foothills, too. They’re deer-resistant as well as drought-resistant.

Find irises in an amazing range of colors, patterns and combinations at the annual Sacramento Iris Society rhizome sale this weekend at Shepard Garden and Arts Center.

From 9 a.m to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 20 and 21, society members will offer thousands of recently dug iris rhizomes, the tuberous roots of bearded iris. Hundreds of varieties will be available.

Each specimen will be labeled with cultivar information and a description of its color and appearance. In addition to the spring-blooming varieties, a large selection of reblooming varieties will be available. Extending the iris season, these rebloomers produce a second round of flowers in summer or fall.

With each purchase, receive a free permanent garden label to go with your new iris. A demonstration table will show how to properly plant iris rhizomes. Iris experts also will answer questions and share advice.

Admission and parking are free. Bring cash or check. The Shepard Center is located at 3330 McKinley Blvd., Sacramento.

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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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