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Take a winter’s ramble in a large garden of native plants

CNPS Garden Ambassador opens property for self-guided tours

This month is a great time to see how a native garden comes alive after the rains -- and floods.  The bridges in Patricia Carpenter's garden were completely covered with water for a while, she says.

This month is a great time to see how a native garden comes alive after the rains -- and floods. The bridges in Patricia Carpenter's garden were completely covered with water for a while, she says. Photo courtesy Patricia Carpenter

There is life in the garden in winter! And native plants are especially interesting, as anyone visiting Patricia Carpenter’s Yolo County garden on Sunday, Jan. 29, will be able to discover.

Carpenter, a California Native Plant Society Garden Ambassador, opens her property that day for her Seasonal Winter Ramble. Described as a “1-acre wild escape on the slough,” the garden is located west of Davis. Expect to see winter growth, wildlife, birds, fungi and emerging wildflowers, as well as the form and color of trees without their leaves.

The garden, west of Pierce Ranch Road south of Russell Boulevard, will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., rain or shine, for self-guided tours; start any time during those hours. Maps will be available for use on site. Admission is free but registration is required; find the form here. Specific directions to the site will be available to registrants.

Carpenter herself will offer an optional short orientation and Q&A session at noon, repeated at 2 p.m. (Meet near the check-in table.) She began planting the site in 2005, and it now features about 400 varieties of California natives. Visit her Garden Ambassador profile on the CNPS website to read more about the garden, including a plant list. Carpenter’s non-native garden also will be open to view Jan. 29, and the Miridae Mobile Plant Nursery will be on site for sales during the event.

Visitors to the garden are advised to wear sturdy shoes; bringing a lunch or snack is welcome. A composting toilet is available. Masks are optional. Please do not bring dogs.

Questions? Email both Carpenter,, and Maya Argaman, with "Garden Ramble" in the subject line.


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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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