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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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Garden Checklist for week of April 14

It's still not warm enough to transplant tomatoes directly in the ground, but we’re getting there.

* April is the last chance to plant citrus trees such as dwarf orange, lemon and kumquat. These trees also look good in landscaping and provide fresh fruit in winter.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden needs nutrients. Fertilize shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash.

* Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias.

* Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom.

* Mid to late April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce seedlings. Choose varieties that mature quickly such as loose leaf.

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