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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 April 7

The warm wave coming this week will shift weeds into overdrive. Get to work!

* Weed, weed, weed! Whack them before they flower.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden is really hungry. Feed shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash. Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias. Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom. April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce and cabbage seedlings.

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