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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 .

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: .


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Dec. 3:

Make the most of gaps between raindrops. This is a busy month!

* Windy conditions brought down a lot of leaves. Make sure to rake them away from storm drains.

* Use those leaves as mulch around frost-tender shrubs and new transplants.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they're dormant.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.

* Plant one last round of spring bulbs including daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, anemones and scillas. Get those tulips out of the refrigerator and into the ground.

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers such as California poppies.

* Plant such spring bloomers as sweet pea, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Late fall is the best time to plant most trees and shrubs. This gives them plenty of time for root development before spring growth. They also benefit from fall and winter rains.

* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.

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