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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 Sept. 24:

This week our weather will be just right for fall gardening. What are you waiting for?

* Now is the time to plant for fall. The warm soil will get these veggies off to a fast start.

* Keep harvesting tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons and eggplant. Tomatoes may ripen faster off the vine and sitting on the kitchen counter.

* Compost annuals and vegetable crops that have finished producing.

* Cultivate and add compost to the soil to replenish its nutrients for fall and winter vegetables and flowers.

* Fertilize deciduous fruit trees.

* Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.

* Transplant cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower as well as lettuce seedlings.

* Sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies.

* Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.

* Divide and replant bulbs, rhizomes and perennials. That includes bearded iris; if they haven’t bloomed in three years, it’s time to dig them up and divide their rhizomes.

* Dig up and divide daylilies as they complete their bloom cycle.

* Divide and transplant peonies that have become overcrowded. Replant with “eyes” about an inch below the soil surface.

* Late September is ideal for sowing a new lawn or re-seeding bare spots.

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