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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 gardensgonenative@gmail.com 

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Garden Checklist for week of July 14

Your garden needs you!

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to reduce the chance of fungal infection and to conserve moisture.

* Feed vegetable plants bone meal, rock phosphate or other fertilizers high in phosphate to stimulate more blooms and fruiting. (But wait until daily high temperatures drop out of the 100s.)

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week.

* Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more. Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

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* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* It's not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

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

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