Halloween, wine and blossoms

Gardeners should mark these dates on their calendars

Valley oaks at Amador Flower Farm offer shade for picnickers.

Valley oaks at Amador Flower Farm offer shade for picnickers.

Photo by Debbie Arrington

Debbie Arrington, an award-winning garden writer and lifelong gardener, is co-creator of the Sacramento Digs Gardening blog and website.

Too early to think about Halloween? Not if you want to squeeze into Sacramento’s Historic City Cemetery for its wildly popular and spirited affair: The annual Lantern Tour.

Tickets for the 2019 edition will go on sale Sunday, Sept. 1, at midnight.

“Program your phone! Mark your calendar!” tour organizers said in their official announcement, warning: “Last year, they were gone by noon, so set your alarm and don’t hit the snooze button!”

Or just stay up late—which may be appropriate for a tour devoted to things that go bump in the night.

This year’s tour is set for four nights spread over two pre-Halloween weekends: Oct. 18 and 19 and Oct. 25 and 26. By lantern light, docents garbed in Victorian attire lead guests through the famous cemetery, home to Sacramento’s most famous rose garden and two other major gardens, and also the resting place of pioneers, city builders, civic leaders and more. Along the way, guests encounter many “residents” who retell their unique chapters in Sacramento history. It’s a spectacle not to be missed.

Event details:

Historic City Cemetery Lantern Tour

Tickets are $40 plus handling fees, available at lanterntours2019

Cemetery is at 1000 Broadway. Free parking is available on surrounding streets. For more details: historicoldcitycemetery.org

Wine country picnic

Amador Flower Farm will be serving up something different this Labor Day: Free ice cream and popcorn.

In the heart of Amador wine country, the destination nursery will be a stop on the upcoming Shenandoah School Road Progressive Picnic. Set for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sept. 2, this fun event invites visitors to explore Plymouth’s wineries as well as other landmarks such as the flower farm. Have your picnic passport stamped at each location and enter to win a gift basket.

Shenandoah School Road loops past wineries that will be serving picnic treats as well as offering wine tastings. Besides dessert at Amador Flower Farm, the menu includes watermelon at Cooper Vineyards; gourmet chips and dips at Terra D’Oro; and hot dogs and home-cooked beans at Wilderotter Vineyard.

Home to millions of day lilies, Amador Flower Farm also features massive valley oaks. It’s a great place to picnic any time with tables under the trees. (Wine is welcome, too.)

Event details:

Shenandoah School Road Progressive Picnic

Amador Flower Farms, 22001 Shenandoah School Road in Plymouth. For directions and more details: amadorflowerfarm.com and visitamador.com/events/2019/labor-day-progressive-picnic.

Looking way ahead

For gardeners who want to get a big jump on next year, the Sacramento County Master Gardeners now have their 2020 gardening guide and calendar available for sale. The theme: “Blossoms.” With beautiful photos, each month features seasonal flowers that will be at their height of bloom plus advice on how to grow them.

An invaluable resource for local gardeners, these calendars are also packed with tips on what to plant when, expected harvest dates and timely reminders. In addition, UC Cooperative Extension Master Food Preservers share their favorite recipes using edible flowers and herbs (such as lemon sage wine mustard).

A major fundraiser for the UC master gardener program, the calendars are available at sacmg.ucanr.edu for $10 each.