Dan Vierria

Gardening Columnist

About This Author

As a senior writer for The Sacramento Bee, Dan Vierria covered media, food, restaurants, pop culture/trends and home & garden. Currently, he is a freelance writer, social media page administrator and certified University of California Master Gardener for Sacramento County.

Articles by this author

Rock Steady

Stone is not fragrant. It doesn’t bloom or sway in the breeze. Bees and butterflies treat it like a flyover state, settling on flowers. It’s not plucked and tucked in a vase, and rarely photographed. Moss and lichens find it, but gardeners too often ignore it. Yet it commands that other indispensable garden design group, hardscape.

Hardscape is any structure or feature unrelated to plants. Gardens stir conversations about trees, shrubs, perennials and grasses. Stone, should you look beyond plants, is stacked, mortared and set into patios, pathways, retaining walls, water features and dry stream beds, or placed for decorative purposes. Stone serves garden whims and fundamental needs.

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Shady Propositions

Sacramento’s majestic urban forest is a shady embrace. As fall approaches, return the love by replacing or adding trees to the landscape.

Trees, arm in arm with farm to fork and tomatoes, are as Sacramento as it gets. We jog, nap and dine under trees, often not acknowledging the benefits our woody friends provide.

The urban forest accommodates family gatherings, recreation and relaxation. It yields food. Trees purify air, cool homes, save energy, provide wildlife habitat and prevent soil erosion. Trees are beautiful, boosting property values.

The city’s Urban Forestry Division reported 305 street trees lost and 191 park trees downed during January storms. Officials lack precise figures for tree losses on private property, but estimate 1,500 were swept away last winter. Many more vanished from drought, stress and diseases.

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Killer Tomatoes

Hands on hips and nursing a broken heart, we stand before the tomato plant and ask, “How come I’m not getting any tomatoes?” Nature plays cruel jokes on gardeners.

Even one tiny, green tomato can raise spirits, but not satisfy yearnings for a slab of vine-ripened tomato, slathered in mayo and buried between good bread. Be dejected but understand tomato droughts may not be your fault.

Despite skill and experience, even the greenest thumbs can confront the same impasse. Tomatoes go on extended vacations.

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Habit Forming

Can we chat about the birds and the bees? No, not those birds and bees, but feathered birds and buzzing bees in gardens.

Wildlife habitat gardens are planned and planted for the benefit of birds, bees, butterflies and assorted critters in search of food, water, shelter and nesting areas. Imagine a wild world garden.

Landscapes, often dominated by lawn, shrubs and trees are being tweaked for ecologically acceptable alternatives. The habitat garden is a throwback to simpler times when humans and wildlife lived in harmony.

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Heat’s On

This post is sponsored by Heat’s On These roses can handle a serious scorcher By Dan Vierria June...

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