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'Duchess Pinky' house on East Sac Garden Tour

The Duchess Pinky garden will be part of the East
Sacramento Garden Tour this year. (Photo by Michelle
Drewes, courtesy east Sacramento Garden Tour)

English garden of local legend featured during popular event

In a Mother’s Day weekend tradition, thousands of garden lovers will be walking through the Fabulous Forties on Saturday and Sunday, admiring seven private gardens usually hidden from public view.

It’s the 21st annual East Sacramento Garden Tour, a major fundraiser for David Lubin School.

“It’s a perfect family outing for Mother’s Day weekend,” said volunteer Mary Odbert, one of the tour’s organizers.

Tickets are $20 in advance; $25 on tour day. Children age 12 and younger are admitted free. Proceeds support arts, music and after-school programs at Lubin School on M Street.

During the tour, Lubin School also hosts a huge boutique of only-in-Sacramento handmade gifts and food items, great for Mother’s Day giving. More than 40 local vendors are participating.

“All the gardens are within walking distance of David Lubin School,” said Odbert. “That way, people can stroll through the neighborhood.”

Last year, more than 3,000 patrons took part in the tour, thanks in part to the “Lady Bird” house. Seen in Greta Gerwig’s Oscar-nominated movie, the big blue colonial mansion was a major draw.

This weekend’s tour features a real local celebrity, or at least her garden.

According to “intriguing neighborhood lore,” Duchess Pinky often sat on her front lawn, playing the harp and drinking champagne, Odbert said. Pinky no longer lives in the ivy-covered house with brick pillars and wrought-iron gates, but her garden is much the same – an English cottage fantasy.

Another featured stop illustrates a major modern makeover.

“The back of this lovely East Sac home was extended further into the original backyard with a remodel,” Odbert said. “The new house footprint meant that the original pool was in an inconvenient spot. (The home owners) hired Michael Glassman and Associates to redesign the yard. He and his team created a lovely hardscape that maximizes the space and completely moved the pool to the left side of the yard, which made room for dining and living areas.”

For the tour, Sacramento designer Kerrie Kelly will embellish these outdoor patio rooms, Odbert added.

Besides the gardens and boutique, the tour offers tea, wine and other refreshments at Sutter Lawn, Sacramento’s oldest private neighborhood club. (No reservations are necessary for tea this year.) Parked in front of the homes will be vintage cars borrowed from the California Automobile Museum.

“We tried this last year and (the car buffs) enjoyed it as much as we did,” Odbert said.

Start the tour at Lubin School, 3535 M St., Sacramento. Tour hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 11 and 12.

Details and tickets:

This shows a portion of a Michael Glassman-redesigned backyard that will be on the East Sacramento Garden Tour. (Photo by Mary Odbert, courtesy East Sacramento Garden Tour)


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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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