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See and smell lavender at Newcastle Farms

Open Farm Days feature the flowering herb at peak of bloom

Visit Newcastle Lavender during Open Farm Days and enjoy the sights and smells of lavender.

Visit Newcastle Lavender during Open Farm Days and enjoy the sights and smells of lavender. Photo courtesy Newcastle Lavender Farms

Love lavender? Then this opportunity is for you. Here’s a chance to immerse yourself in blooming lavender – and take some home, too.

Friday through Sunday, June 16 to 18, Newcastle Lavender Farms will open its fields to the public during Open Farm Days. Admission is $12 per person, including one bundle of fresh-cut lavender. Additional fresh-cut lavender bundles are available for purchase.

From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day, roam the rows of intensely fragrant blossoms. Pose for photos among the flowers. Watch bees at work, gathering pollen.

Lavender season hits its peak of bloom in June and early July. According to a recent report, lavender ranks as California’s favorite flower, based on Google searches. Its fragrance is believed to promote relaxation.

Planted in 2016, this farm grows ‘Grosso’ lavender, a hybrid known for its tall dark blue spikes.

Newcastle Lavender Farms is located at 2450 Paddock Lane, Newcastle, about 30 minutes from downtown Sacramento. Owned and operated by the Stanphill family, the farms are open for photo events and special occasions. The farms produce a wide variety of lavender products, available at Little Bird Mercantile in Auburn as well as directly from Newcastle Lavender.

“Our farm will open for visitors on select days starting in June through the beginning of July during peak bloom season,” the family posted online. “We welcome you to come experience our peaceful setting, wander our fields, enjoy a picnic and shop our farm store. Food and Refreshment Trucks available most days. We offer a variety of lavender products along with our fresh cut and dried lavender bundles and buds.

“We will also offer this year, wreath-making classes taught by our friend and well-known artist, Dori with Everything’s Hunky Dori,” they added. “These classes will be held in our shady meadow and we will provide all the fresh lavender and supplies needed for you to make your own handcrafted wreath to take home. There are morning and evening sessions to choose from. Bring a group or meet some new friends. Refreshments served.”

Additional Open Farm Days are planned Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through July 2, or until the lavender flowers finish their bloom.

For advance tickets, class reservations and directions: www.newcastlelavender.com.

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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* 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.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

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

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

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

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

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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