Do plant choices really make a difference in water use? See for yourself in these 500-square-foot sample landscapes.

In the heat of summer, it’s hard to imagine that the weather will ever be cool again. And with dry weather, it’s hard to imagine it becoming rainy again.

Summer veggies are at their peak right now. Enjoy those tomatoes – and encourage plants to produce a few more.

Thanks to California’s chronic drought and watering restrictions, there’s no shortage of dry, dusty-brown lawns. And that’s led to a growth in business for a specialty remedy: lawn painting.

Goodwin Creek Grey lavender can take the heat while attracting birds, bees and butterflies.

Smoothies are a nutritious way to stir things up in the kitchen, especially if the ingredients come from your garden.

Fallen fruit creates a haven for bad bugs and plant disease.

Taste a variety of melons, attend Farmer Fred’s University, take a self-guided farm and garden tour, live music, and food.

If you have been hoping to light up your garden with dazzling foliage, then you need a little Sunshine. Actually a little is good but a lot of Sunshine is better. The Sunshine I am referring to is one of the hottest shrubs anywhere and that is the Sunshine ligustrum.

Little lavender flowers attract birds, too.

Time of day important when irrigating tomatoes.

Pick summer crops while planning for fall replacements.

This hummingbird favorite adds color and charm to low-water gardens.

Collector of rarities loves bromeliads for their rainbow colors; see them this weekend at Sacramento show and sale.

Start planning – and planting – autumn vegetable garden.

Butterflies can’t resist this easy-care Baja California native.

For 53 years, Ruben Rincon cut hair at his barbershop. To relax after his job, he took out a different set of clippers and went to work on his bonsai.

There’s something primal in every one of us that responds to spring. Since the dawn of agriculture, humans feel the urge to plant flowers and food crops after a long, cold winter. But as the weeks pass into midsummer, rising heat and fair weather activities can diminish that early drive to get out into the garden. Just when the plants need you most you’ll be off to the beach or a dozen other summer activities.

Popular native perennial is a food source for winged visitors.

Mulch is an easy way to insulate roots from extreme heat while maintainig soil moisture.

As backyard farmers, mother-daughter duo grow their own flowers for their Roseville floral studio.

Deer won’t eat this bee-friendly native ground cover.

Popeye ain’t the only bloke who’s gotta have spinach. Some gardeners also crave it, freshly picked.

The best strategy to beat the heat is getting to work before it’s too hot.

At Redeemer’s Field, gardeners are growing anything and everything.

You may not recognize the word “zazzle” but I predict you will like the plant attached to it. “Pink Zazzle” is a new gomphrena with iridescent hot pink flowers that are so incredibly beautiful they have a hypnotic effect on me. I have to go look at them every day. To be honest I even photograph them every day. We stumbled on them quite by accident which means you may have to do the same or ask your favorite progressive local garden center to track them down.

Native to the Sacramento Valley, this unusual plant thrives in dry shade.

Ice cream cone planting part of kids-only workshops today.

About a gallon a day should get mature plants through heat (and drought) of summer.

Popular for its flowers, this shrub can take the summer heat. Hummingbirds love it, too.

Most veggies can get by on twice a week irrigation. Check soil moisture before turning on the hose.

Mulch plants to keep roots cool and save water.

Larger configuration produces a bumper crop of turnips and early tomatoes.

Popular purple perennial is a favorite in drought-tolerant Sacramento gardens.

Amador Flower Farm hosts this huge event with a million daylilies in bloom.

In a normal year, the hydrangeas would be thick with leafy growth and holding aloft conspicuous buds to open at month’s end either as lacecaps or globes, thus introducing an effervescent spring to a more languid summer.

Drought-tolerant native will keep your landscape buzzing.

Easiest way to dispose of these pests is to pick them off — but wear gloves.

Master gardeners celebrate a milestone.

Marigold is among the most widely planted and, hence, mundane of flowers. Yet I enjoy them as an essential part of summer with their yolk-like blooms and pungent foliage.

Positive energy flows through Huei Young’s Davis garden, inspired by her artist father.

See 10 local examples of landscapes that went from traditional turf to low-water wonders.

Study up before you spray chemicals. Also get tips on disposal and storage.

Saint Catherine’s lace is a magnet for beneficial insects – and gardeners like it, too.

Now that daffodil bloom time has passed, some gardeners might be wondering where their flowers were. If some plants remained all leaves, with few or no flowers, why was that?

Where: Shepard Garden and Arts Center, 3330 McKinley Blvd., Sacramento

I recently had a conversation with someone that was expressing frustration about their efforts to make compost. Her complaint was that the pile was just sitting there – not breaking down. In fact, she hadn’t seen any noticeable results in many months. It’s a common problem, and an easy fix.

Transplant veggies and sow flowers — but don’t forget to water!

Don’t wait until it’s too hot to plant veggies. Get your tomatoes growing now.

Rare fruit growers share their skills at hands-on workshop.

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