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Cool it on a garden tour, then check in on the sun

The Japanese garden is one of 16 sites within the Sherwood Demonstration
Garden in Placerville. (Photo courtesy UCCE El Dorado master gardeners)
Two weekend events in Placerville promise family fun

There are many cool places to hang out this weekend but one of the coolest for gardeners is the Sherwood Demonstration Garden in Placerville. And this Saturday morning you can get a guided tour of the place for free. Stick around after that tour and visit the Community Observatory for a free viewing of our garden pal, the sun.

The demonstration garden is a production of El Dorado County's UCCE master gardeners. Both events are at the El Dorado Center of Folsom Lake College, 6699 Campus Drive, Placerville.

The garden tour starts promptly at 9:15 a.m. Saturday, July 6, is one hour long and is open to individuals and small groups. Participants should arrive 10 minutes early. No reservations are required and no fee is charged, though the $2 college parking fee applies. (Exact change is required.) No dogs are allowed in the garden.

Master Gardener Sue McDavid will lead the group through the 16 individual demonstration gardens that showcase the growing conditions and microclimates of western El Dorado County. The plants all are sustainably grown for the gardens, which range from a rose garden to a rock garden. An orchard, a marsh and a native plants garden also are part of the site. Information:

The Community Observatory will be open from 10 a.m. to 11:59 a.m. The observatory volunteers will show the sun through their safe solar telescopes, viewing both white light and hydrogen-alpha. Viewers will be able to see sunspots, prominences and maybe even a flare, they say.

Can't make the sun viewing? The observatory will also have night sky viewing at 8:30 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday. For more information:

-- Kathy Morrison


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of June 4:

Because of the comfortable weather, it’s not too late to set out tomato and pepper seedlings as well as squash and melon plants. They’ll appreciate this not-too-hot weather. Just remember to water.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, melons, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes.

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the wee hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

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