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Where do plant lovers hang out in Sacramento? Try the Shepard Center

Garden clubs meet at the McKinley Park site -- arts groups, too

The Iva Gard Shepard Garden & Arts Center, built in 1958, is in the eastern portion of McKinley Park in East Sacramento.

The Iva Gard Shepard Garden & Arts Center, built in 1958, is in the eastern portion of McKinley Park in East Sacramento. Kathy Morrison

Since January signals the start of a new gardening year, it's a good time to get in on the ground floor of yearly plans by the region's gardening groups.

Many such organizations in Sacramento make their home base at the Shepard Garden & Arts Center in McKinley Park. The city calls the nonprofit corporation that runs the center the Sacramento Garden & Arts Center, which is a bit confusing. The structure, built in Mid-century Modern style in 1958, was named for Iva Gard Shepard, who decades ago was the Sacramento Bee's garden columnist and who also served for many years as the center's board president.

Shepard Center sign
This sign outside the Shepard Center should
say "Arts" not "Art."

The Shepard Center calendar is packed, though most of the public events -- shows and plant sales -- don't get rolling until March. But the clubs and organizations based there are active and meeting now. They range from the Capital City African Violet Society to the Sacramento Weavers' and Spinners' Guild. Interested in bonsai, flower arranging, irises, cymbidiums or carnivorous plants? There's a group for each. California native plants, too. Non-gardening clubs focus on antiques, photography, watch collecting, porcelain artistry, textile arts, and clay and hot-glass artistry.

Check out the list of clubs here: 

The listing includes meeting dates; the center's specific calendar is here. Upcoming dates for pubic events include the Weavers' & Spinners' Guild Open House & Sale, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 10-11, the Perennial Plant Club's Gardener's Market on Saturday, March 9, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the all-organization Spring Sale on March 16-17.

The Shepard Center is located at 3330 McKinley Blvd. in the McKinley Park Annex, east of the main park. There is a small parking lot, but most of the nearby parking is on the streets.


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Garden Checklist for week of June 23

Get to work in the mornings while it’s still cool.

* Irrigate early in the day; your plants will appreciate it.

* Generally, tomatoes need deep watering two to three times a week, but don't let them dry out completely. That can encourage blossom-end rot.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the early hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Avoid pot “hot feet.” Place a 1-inch-thick board under container plants sitting on pavement. This little cushion helps insulate them from radiated heat.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants. Mulch to conserve moisture and reduce heat stress.

* Cut back Shasta daisies after flowering to encourage a second bloom in the fall.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

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

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes. 

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

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