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Follow the poppies on Gardens Gone Native tour

It's a great year for poppies, such as these in the Fremont Community Garden. Many of the stops on the Gardens Gone Native tour this weekend will include California's state flower. (Photo: Debbie Arrington)

24 private gardens show off California native plants

This free self-guided tour is Sacramento’s version of the poppy trail.

California’s state flower will pop up often on the ninth annual Gardens Gone Native tour, which showcases the many ways to grow natives in the greater Sacramento area.

“I love poppies,” said tour organizer Colene Rauh. “I have lots of them in my garden. This is a very good year for poppies.”

Set for 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 27, this free event invites visitors to 24 private gardens planted with mostly native species. Of the two dozen stops, 11 are in Sacramento and four in Woodland. Other gardens are scattered in Rancho Cordova, Orangevale, Granite Bay, Fair Oaks and Citrus Heights.

Several gardens are on the tour for the first time. Participants can see as many (or as few) as they like.

Gardeners and docents will be on hand to share their secrets to blooming success. Last year, about 1,000 people took the tour, organized by the Sacramento Valley chapter of the California Native Plant Society.

After a chilly start to spring, recent sunny weather has sped up the bloom. Just as their wildflower cousins enjoyed winter rain and perfect growing conditions, native plants in suburban gardens are looking extraordinary with lush growth and abundant flowers.

“Everything’s been kind of late [blooming] because of the weather,” said Rauh, noting the cold spell in March. “But these warm days are really good.
This Sacramento garden on Sagamore Way will be among the 24 stops
on the Gardens Gone Native tour.
(Photo: Courtesy Sac Valley CNPS)

"The ceanothus is out now. Irises are looking beautiful. Monkeyflowers are starting to bloom. Blue-eyed grass and woodland strawberries love this weather. The sages are doing well. By the tour, there will be a lot to see.”

A volunteer at the CNPS nursery, Mark Lum in North Highlands turned his former lawn into a field of wildflower dreams.

“It focuses on bringing the beauty of the wild California super blooms into a neighborhood setting,” said Lum, who started his lawn conversion in 2017. “The land needed to retain more water, so I created two rain swales and a mounding landscape. This helped also diversify the growing conditions for the over 50 native species of plants that I seeded or planted.

“The garden is heavy in annuals such as the sky lupine that has a pleasant floral smell when enough are present,” he added. “But unique perennials like the fiery tips of the Indian paintbrush also bring in the spring with color.”


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:

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

* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.

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

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to help corral blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.

To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

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

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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