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Come see how early spring is waking up plants

Open Garden Day this month is on Wednesday morning

The ceanothus is in bloom at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center, and the bees know it.

The ceanothus is in bloom at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center, and the bees know it. Kathy Morrison

The weather crimped the calendar for plants as well as for people this year. But having experienced some days of sunshine now, the natives and other perennials beginning to bloom, as are the blueberries, the scented geraniums and the fruit trees.

All this botanical activity and more will be on display Wednesday, April 12, when the master gardeners open the gates to the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center for Open Garden Day. The event runs from 9 a.m. to noon and is free to the public.

The Horticulture Center is the showcase for the UC master gardener program in Sacramento County. It features several focus gardens, including an orchard,  vegetable garden, herb garden, vineyard, berry garden and compost demonstration area.

The Water Efficient Landscape, in the front of the center, features many native plants and other plants that are water-efficient and appropriate for home gardens. The WEL is open daily, but the other areas are open only during Open Garden days and Harvest Day (that's Aug. 5 this year).

Visitors are welcome to stroll the grounds, be inspired by the plantings and, especially, ask questions of the many master gardeners who will be working in the gardens. The Ask a Master Gardener table will be staffed to help gardeners with their plant problems or mysteries. (Bring samples!)

Additional Open Garden days this spring are scheduled on May 4 (4-7 p.m.); May 20 (9 a.m. to noon) and June 17 (9 a.m. to noon). The Horticulture Center is located at 11549 Fair Oaks Blvd., just south of Fair Oaks Park and Fair Oaks Library off Madison Avenue. 

Find more about the Sacramento County master gardener programs and events at


Note: Due to operator error (mine), the Wednesday blog post, about the Sherwood Demonstration Garden in Placerville, didn't go out in the newsletter as it usually does. Readers can find it here:


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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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