Psst. Want to know a secret? Snuggled between J Street and a parking garage is the University Arboretum and Botanic Garden. Yup, a petite parcel of trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials on the Sacramento State campus.
Easy to miss, the arboretum is a surprisingly tranquil retreat from modern mayhem. The Sacramento Tree Foundation, which awarded the arboretum its “Legacy Award,” says schoolchildren call it the “Forest in the City.”
Gardening is fertilizer for the soul. Admire a flower. Inhale a patch of lavender. A few minutes with nature bring obvious benefits. Less obvious and underappreciated are creatures that live in our soil, on our plants or drop by Sacramento gardens for a visit.
Gardens teem with both pests and, hopefully, beneficial creatures. Beneficial, in a gardening sense, means critters that help in pollination and control pests. They also can improve soil.
As a lad, I learned to appreciate honeybees. Dad was a honeybee hobbyist who tended hives and extracted honey. Guess who was conscripted to help.
Fads are fleeting. Remember steampunk, planking, selfie sticks, the ice bucket challenge and the Macarena? Social media platforms and marketing staffs predict and inflate fads. Eventually, the air escapes and we read about the next must-have product.
Gardening has fads, often called trends. By definition, a fad arrives overnight and quickly disappears. Trends gradually evolve and may (or not) endure. Both are lumped into one category when predicting the most popular colors, plants and design choices for gardens and outdoor living areas.
One soggy morning, rain and wind buffeted Sacramento. At this perfect moment for baking blueberry muffins, my blue orbs were hibernating in the freezer. All were grown in containers last summer.
Growing edibles and ornamentals in containers is a gardening option. In many cases, it’s required. Tiny new home lots and some urban dwellings offer enough “yard” for the dog to turn around. Available outdoor growing space may be concrete or a Midtown balcony, rooftop or alley.
Containers and flowers go together like teens and texting. Inflation and the cost of food, continuing pandemic concerns and a boost in healthy diets are driving increased edible gardening. Pots are perfect!
Peek outside if you dare. Behold landscape plants on the critical list, already deceased or unanimous picks for the All-Ugly Team. Craters may mark spaces that plants once occupied. Yes, you need plants, but not just any plants.
While scouring local nurseries this spring, please consider the perennials and annuals recommended in this column. All perform well in Sacramento gardens. My current favorites: