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California celebrates its first State Parks Week

New commemoration includes dozens of special events

Railroad Museum guide and visitor
The California Railroad Museum is one of several state parks around Sacramento. The first California State Parks Week celebration runs through Saturday. (Photo by Brian Baer, courtesy California State Parks)

Happy California State Parks Week! Never heard of it? It’s brand new – and right now.

Through June 18, this initial celebration of our state’s parks system is presented by California State Parks, Save the Redwoods League, Parks California and the California State Parks Foundation. Most of all, it’s a reminder of how lucky we are to have such great public resources including some right at home, such as the California Railroad Museum, Old Sacramento, the Governor's Mansion (with its wonderful gardens) and the tree-filled Capitol Park surrounding the State Capitol.

Planners of California State Parks Week picked themes for each day, starting with Tuesday’s Land Acknowledgment Day focusing on Native American history and roots. Wednesday (today) is Kids Career Day – who wants to be a ranger? Thursday focuses on Health and Wellness with lots of nature hikes.

Friday is Stewardship Day; learn how to be a better friend to the wilderness and wildlife. Saturday salutes Partnership/Volunteer Day and the people who make park experiences possible.

Stewardship Day in particular has gardening connections. Events focus on such topics as native plants, butterflies, wildlife and invasive weeds.

Events are a mix of in-person, hands-on experiences and online presentations. For a full list, see CAStateParksWeek.org .

Organizers hope that this commemoration will help remind Californians: State parks are your parks.

“The COVID-19 pandemic brought many challenges to California’s communities, but it also illuminated the important connection of the outdoors to our physical and mental well-being,” say the organizers.

“Parks across the U.S. experienced increased visitation in 2020-21, and California State Parks Week underscores the important role parks play in communities statewide.”

Our park system is pretty impressive, they note. “California State Parks protects the best of the state’s natural and cultural history; more than 340 miles of coastline; the tallest, largest and among the oldest trees in the world; and deserts, lakes, rivers and beaches. Across 279 parks statewide, there are more than 5,200 miles of trails, 15,000 campsites, prehistoric and historic archeological sites, ghost towns, historic homes and monuments — all waiting to be explored.”

Details: CAStateParksWeek.org .

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Garden Checklist for week of April 14

It's still not warm enough to transplant tomatoes directly in the ground, but we’re getting there.

* April is the last chance to plant citrus trees such as dwarf orange, lemon and kumquat. These trees also look good in landscaping and provide fresh fruit in winter.

* 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 needs nutrients. Fertilize 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.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* 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.

* Mid to late April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce seedlings. Choose varieties that mature quickly such as loose leaf.

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