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Is your garden throwing shade?

Tuberous begonias are beautiful additions to shade gardens. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)

Workshop focuses on the brighter side of planting shady yards
We love our trees, but sometimes fret that their leafy branches work too well in blocking the sun. What can be grown in all that shade?

To the rescue come the UCCE Master Gardeners of El Dorado County. On Saturday, Aug. 25, their free workshop, "Shade Gardening," will enlighten gardeners on the joys of plants that thrive in the shade.

As Master Gardener Susan Corey-McAlpine writes in the group's newsletter, "There is possibly no more perfect gardening activity for these hot summer afternoons than planning a shade garden, a haven of private coolness."

She notes that the amount of sun exposure a site receives determines what plants can grow there. Full shade is determined as getting less than 1 hour of sun daily, while part shade is 1 to 2 hours of sun exposure daily. Part sun is 4 to 5 hours daily, and full sun is more than 6 hours daily.

Hydrangeas such as this Incrediball variety
are great for shady areas.
In addition to Corey-McAlpine, the workshop will be conducted by Master Gardeners Merry Campbell, who chairs the Shade Garden at the Sherwood Demonstration Garden, and EJ Kipping.

They will cover topics such as soil content, shade plants with color, and the special attention needed for planting under oaks.

The workshop runs from 9 a.m. to noon at the Government Center, Building C Hearing Room,  2850 Fairlane Ct., Placerville. No advance registration is required.

For more information on the El Dorado Master Gardeners' programs: 530-621-5512 or

-- Kathy Morrison


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Garden Checklist for week of June 23

Get to work in the mornings while it’s still cool.

* Irrigate early in the day; your plants will appreciate it.

* Generally, tomatoes need deep watering two to three times a week, but don't let them dry out completely. That can encourage blossom-end rot.

* 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 early 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.

* Avoid pot “hot feet.” Place a 1-inch-thick board under container plants sitting on pavement. This little cushion helps insulate them from radiated heat.

* 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. Mulch to conserve moisture and reduce heat stress.

* Cut back Shasta daisies after flowering to encourage a second bloom in the fall.

* 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.

* 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.

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