It’s time to plan for spring garden events

Spring is a busy time for garden-related happenings in San Joaquin and neighboring counties. There’s something happening nearly every weekend between now and summer, and with so many events to choose from, there are plentiful opportunities for fun and enriching outings. Consider taking advantage of these upcoming events to expand your knowledge, buy new water-wise plants, view beautiful and inspirational gardens, and more:


Classes by UCCE Master Gardeners of San Joaquin County

When:      Various dates

Where:     Various locations


Your local Master Gardeners have a wonderful series of free classes planned for spring this year. Dates and locations vary to encourage attendance throughout the county. See the Calendar of Events on the right side of our website’s home page, and click on “Show More” for additional details. Upcoming classes include “All About Tomatoes” (February 25), “Creating Your Summer Vegetable Garden” (March 9), “Planning Your Summer Vegetable Garden” (March 16), and “Summer Vegetable Garden Above the Ground” (March 24). Space is limited; call 209-953-6100 to reserve a space.


2020 Smart Gardening Conference

When:       Saturday, March 14 from 8:15 a.m. to 4:10 p.m.

Where:     Robert J. Cabral Agricultural Center

                  2101 E. Earhart Ave., Stockton


This conference by the UCCE Master Gardeners of San Joaquin County features a choice of 20 garden-related presentations, to be held in two morning and two afternoon sessions. This year’s featured speaker is “Plant Lady” Marlene Simon, horticulturalist and garden columnist for the Sacramento Bee. A few presentations will be given by the local Master Food Preservers. More details to come in next week’s article!


Fair Oaks Horticulture Center Open Garden Days

When:       Saturday, March 14 from 9:00 a.m. to noon

                  Wednesday, April 15 from 9:00 a.m. to noon

                  Saturday, May 9 from 9 a.m. to noon

Where:     11549 Fair Oaks Boulevard, Fair Oaks


This center is the demonstration garden for the UCCE Master Gardeners of Sacramento County, and it boasts a water-efficient landscape, a composting area, an irrigation display, and an expansive edible garden. Each monthly event features several different, free mini-demonstrations by knowledgeable presenters. These are rain-or-shine, outdoor events.


UC Davis Arboretum Plant Sales

When:       Saturday, March 14 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. (members only)

                  Saturday, March 14 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (public sale)

                  Saturday, April 4 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (public sale)

                  Sunday, April 26 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (public sale)

                  Saturday, May 9 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (public clearance sale)

Where:     UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery

                  Garrod Drive (across from the Veterinary School), UCD campus, Davis 


The semi-annual sales at this one-acre nursery feature a huge variety of offerings, including reliable California natives and plants on the Arboretum All-Stars list — those species specifically recommended for planting in the Central Valley. Arrive early for the best selection; these sales attract many visitors. View the plant sale inventory at Arboretum members (including anyone who joins during the sale) receive a discount on purchases. While you’re in the area, take time to look at the beautiful, water-wise landscaping at the nursery, visit the adjacent Mary Wattis Brown Garden of California Native Plants, or wander the Arboretum pathways along Putah Creek. 


CNPS Spring Native Plant Sale

When:       Saturday, April 4 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Where:     Elderberry Farms Native Plant Nursery

                  2140 Chase Drive, Rancho Cordova


This semi-annual sale by the Sacramento Valley Chapter of the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) features a wide variety of California native perennials, shrubs, and trees. CNPS’s spring sale is held at Soil Born Farms on the American River Parkway, which features attractive native plants gardens and wildlife-friendly hedgerows (an example of conservation-based agriculture). Admission is free; proceeds from this event support CNPS’s educational and conservation work.


Gardens Gone Native

When:       Saturday, April 25 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Where:     Gardens throughout Sacramento and Yolo Counties


This free, inspiring, self-guided tour by Sacramento CNPS features different residential landscapes planted at least 50% with Northern California native plants. (Many gardens also include compatible water-wise plants from Mediterranean regions.) Online registration is required. A list of garden locations will be provided to registered participants closer to the tour date; every participant selects their own route and which gardens to visit. Learn how to support native pollinators and wildlife, reduce water and pesticide use, and encourage beneficial insects while meeting enthusiastic tour hosts.


San Joaquin Master Gardener Open Garden Day and Plant Sale

When:       Saturday, April 18 from 9:00 a.m. to noon

Where:     Robert J. Cabral Agricultural Center

                  2101 E. Earhart Ave., Stockton

This event showcases the UCCE Learning Landscape, a demonstration garden created and maintained by the UCCE Master Gardeners of San Joaquin County. Explore the different sections of the garden (Mediterranean, California native, pollinator, edible, and more) and get gardening-related advice from our many on-site volunteers. Offerings at the plant sale will include vegetable seedlings, culinary herbs, a variety of perennial plants, some California native plants, and a nice selection of easy-care succulents. A plant list will be posted online closer to the date of the event.

A colorful scene from a past regional garden tour, with a whimsical sculpture and many beautiful California native plants. (Photo courtesy of Kathy Ikeda)


Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour

When:       Sunday, May 3 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Where:     Various locations in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties


This is another self-guided garden tour. Pre-registration is required, a $10 fee is charged for the garden guide, and a donation of $15 per person is suggested to help cover event costs. Garden access will only be granted with the tickets included in the paid garden guide.

This year’s tour showcases 35 private gardens and several East Bay California native nurseries. Garden sites for this tour are divided into two categories: “Bayside Cities” and “Inland Cities.” Be sure to visit gardens in the latter category if you’re looking for inspiration, since the weather pattern in inland Bay Area cities most closely matches the hot-summer climate in our area. Visit the website to register, view the tour flyer, and access photos and other helpful information. 

For gardening-related questions, call the UC Master Gardener office at 209-953-6112, or visit our website:

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