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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 Feb. 5

Make the most of sunny days and get winter tasks done:

* This is the last chance to spray fruit trees before they bloom. Treat peach and nectarine trees with copper-based fungicide. Spray apricot trees at bud swell to prevent brown rot. Apply horticultural oil to control scale, mites and aphids on fruit trees soon after a rain. But remember: Oils need at least 24 hours to dry to be effective. Don’t spray during foggy weather or when rain is forecast.

* Feed spring-blooming shrubs and fall-planted perennials with slow-release fertilizer. Feed mature trees and shrubs after spring growth starts.

* Finish pruning roses and deciduous trees.

* Remove aphids from blooming bulbs with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap.

* Fertilize strawberries and asparagus.

* Transplant or direct-seed several flowers, including snapdragon, candytuft, lilies, astilbe, larkspur, Shasta and painted daisies, stocks, bleeding heart and coral bells.

* In the vegetable garden, plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers, and strawberry and rhubarb roots.

* Transplant cabbage and its close cousins – broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts – as well as lettuce (both loose leaf and head).

* Plant artichokes, asparagus and horseradish from root divisions.

* Plant potatoes from tubers and onions from sets (small bulbs). The onions will sprout quickly and can be used as green onions in March.

* From seed, plant beets, chard, lettuce, mustard, peas, radishes and turnips.

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