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Ramble through a native plant garden in autumn

CNPS Ambassador Patricia Carpenter opens her property to visitors Sunday

Autumn softens all the colors in the landscape. This view looks west from Patricia Carpenter's garden, which is just outside Davis.

Autumn softens all the colors in the landscape. This view looks west from Patricia Carpenter's garden, which is just outside Davis.

Photo by Beth Savidge, courtesy Patricia Carpenter

With plants heading into dormancy and the colors softening, autumn is an ideal time to take an observational stroll through nature.

Patricia Carpenter, a California Native Plant Society Garden Ambassador, will open her 1-acre native-plant garden from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5, for her Autumn Ramble. (Remember that Pacific Standard Time starts early Sunday; clocks turn back 1 hour.)

The garden, west of Pierce Ranch Road south of Russell Boulevard, will be open rain or shine for self-guided tours; visitors may start any time during those hours. Admission is free but registration is required here. Maps will be available for use on site.

Carpenter's Verge Experiment, along the bike path that parallels Russell, recently was honored by Pacific Horticulture magazine. It was one of three West Coast gardens described by the publication as "volunteer-powered designs with community at their heart."

 “After 35 years controlling weeds along the bike path in front of my property, I decided to start planting," she wrote in her application. "With climate change and the reality of recurring future droughts, I kept wondering just how little water I could use and the verge experiment began.”

The bike path is viewable any time, but Carpenter's property is open to the public just four or five times a year. On Sunday, an optional short orientation and Q&A gathering with Carpenter is scheduled at 10 a.m. and noon; meet at the check-in table. Other special activities for this Ramble:

-- Botanist Glen Holstein will be in attendance.  His favorite topics include the new CNPS Yolo-Colusa Chapter and conservation of native plants.

-- Restoration ecologist Julia Michaels from Hedgerow Farms will visit to give away native wildflower seeds and show off some of the cool species growing at Hedgerow.

-- The Miridae Mobile Nursery will parked next to the property to satisfy visitors' native-plant purchase urges. A link to their current plant list is available here.

Visitors are advised to wear sturdy shoes, and are welcome to bring a lunch or snack to enjoy onsite. No dogs, please. A composting toilet available. 

Carpenter's non-native garden will be open to view as well. Read more about her native garden on her CNPS profile page.


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For week of Nov. 26:

Concentrate on helping your garden stay comfortable during these frosty nights – and clean up all those leaves!

* Irrigate frost-tender plants such as citrus in the late afternoon. That extra soil moisture increases temperatures around the plant a few degrees, just enough to prevent frost damage. The exception are succulents; too much water before frost can cause them to freeze.

* Cover sensitive plants before the sun goes down. Use cloth sheets or frost cloths, not plastic sheeting, to hold in warmth. Make sure to remove covers in the morning.

* Use fall leaves as mulch around shrubs and vegetables. Mulch acts as a blanket and keeps roots warmer.

* Stop dead-heading; let rose hips form on bushes to prompt dormancy.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location – and definitely indoors overnight. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they’ll bloom again next December.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Plant spring bulbs. Don’t forget the tulips chilling in the refrigerator. Daffodils can be planted without pre-chilling.

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers and plant such spring bloomers as sweet peas, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Plant trees and shrubs. They’ll benefit from fall and winter rains while establishing their roots.

* Set out cool-weather annuals such as pansies and snapdragons.

* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Bare-root season begins now. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb.

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