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See California natives in residential gardens Saturday

The free tour includes 26 gardens from Folsom to Woodland

This Phacelia californica, aka California scorpionweed or California phacelia, was spotted on an earlier Gardens Gone Native tour. This year's tour is Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This Phacelia californica, aka California scorpionweed or California phacelia, was spotted on an earlier Gardens Gone Native tour. This year's tour is Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Kathy Morrison

California natives can be such important parts of residential gardens. But the would-be native gardener, standing in a nursery with a small plant in a 1-gallon pot, might have a tough time envisioning how it's going to fit in with other plants back home.

  Can it work in a small garden? How much water does it really need? What does it look like after five years? All crucial information that can be hard to glean from a small tag.

Gardens Gone Native to the rescue! This free self-guided tour of native-centric gardens is the perfect way to view California natives that have found homes in residential gardens. The tour happens Saturday, April 29, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

And yes, it's free. 

The tour of 26 Sacramento-area gardens is coordinated by the Sacramento Valley Chapter of the California Native Plant Society. Register here to receive the maps of participating gardens, garden descriptions, and more via email.

All 26 sites likely are impossible to visit in one day, so get that online brochure and map out where you'd like to go. Most of the gardens are in  Sacramento County, from Folsom to Sacramento's Pocket neighborhood, but some are in Woodland and Davis.

Two are at schools: the Arboretum at Sacramento State and at Bret Harte Elementary; the latter has a new California natives mural created through the Wide Open Walls program. The Miridae Mobile Nursery also will be selling native plants at one of the Sacramento gardens.

Visitors are welcome to ask the garden hosts about their landscape design choices and challenges. The native plants typically are labeled, so be sure to bring a camera (or phone) to record names and what the plant looks like in spring -- certainly a great time of year for California natives.

For more information on the tour, email 


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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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