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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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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of June 4:

Because of the comfortable weather, it’s not too late to set out tomato and pepper seedlings as well as squash and melon plants. They’ll appreciate this not-too-hot weather. Just remember to water.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, melons, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes.

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the wee hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

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