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Flowery farm: Perfect picnic spot for sipping in Amador County

Jose Lopez, left, and Mauricio Soto set up a scarecrow in the corn maze at the Amador Flower Farm pumpkin patch on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2014 in Plymouth, Calif.
Jose Lopez, left, and Mauricio Soto set up a scarecrow in the corn maze at the Amador Flower Farm pumpkin patch on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2014 in Plymouth, Calif. Sacramento Bee file

When you’re stretched out under a majestic valley oak, any picnic feels like a special occasion. Add a bottle of local wine and it becomes an instant celebration.

Surround the meal with spectacular scenery: row after row of rainbow-hued daylilies in bloom. Picnickers may never want to leave.

That idyllic setting awaits at Amador Flower Farm, a destination nursery that doubles as an oak-studded oasis for wine country visitors.

“Sometimes, people just want a break from wine tasting,” said owner Jeanne Deaver earlier this summer. “Visitors are always welcome.”

Daylilies are just one crop farmed by Ken and Jeanne Deaver, who have worked this foothill parcel for five generations. Their gnarly zinfandel vines date back to the 1850s. Deaver Vineyards tasting room is on nearby Steiner Road.

But it’s the sun-kissed daylilies that stand out among the vineyards. At the Amador Flower Farm, more than a million blooms vie for attention each day during warm summer months. Some varieties continue this colorful flower show into December.

Located about an hour east of Sacramento, Amador Flower Farm also is host to several fall events in Amador wine country. That includes a Labor Day stop on a Progressive Picnic featuring wineries on Shenandoah School Road, as well as the farm’s popular Fall Fun Days the first weekend of October.

“Shenandoah School Road is a loop,” said Leslie Sellman-Sant, who has worked at the farm since 1996. “You don’t wander all that far out there; it brings you back again.”

Yet the loop features several Amador wineries and the flower farm. During the Progressive Picnic, each winery will offer a course ranging from hot dogs and beans to ice-cold watermelon and pasta salad, topped off by ice cream at the farm. “You can start at the farm and have your dessert first,” Sellman-Sant said.

On Oct. 1 and 2 is the farm’s popular Fall Fun Days, the kickoff for its prolific pumpkin patch. Deaver and her staff planted 14,000 pumpkin seeds in more than 50 varieties. The patch will be studded with scarecrows made by local students.

Now in its 20th year, Fall Fun Days has grown into a family festival with lots of activities for children and grown-ups, Sellman-Sant said. A corn maze, hay bale maze and gigantic sandbox will keep youngsters busy. Vendors will offer food and garden-related items. Free tram rides will tour the daylily fields.

“People are welcome to bring their own picnic,” Sellman-Sant said. “In fact, they can bring their own wine, too – preferably something local to enjoy with your picnic.”

Its picturesque setting has made the farm a favorite rest stop. Picnic tables sit in the shade under several of the mammoth oaks, which date back 300 to 400 years. Visitors also may spread out a blanket amid the acres of flowers and trees on the long strips of grass between the planting areas.

“There are wonderful picnic spots all over the farm,” Sellman-Sant said. “The farm is so big, our parking lot can be packed, but you can still feel like you’re by yourself.”

Besides its 14 acres of daylilies, the farm also boasts a dozen separate demonstration gardens, showcasing daylilies with about 200 other blooming plants.

“We will have daylilies in bloom this fall,” Sellman-Sant said. “In August, the heat stalled them – it was so hot. But when the weather cools off, we see the rebloomers and the latest of the late bloomers start to take off. They’ll keep blooming until freeze.”

Also in fall, the farm features its own display of autumn foliage with hundreds of trees and shrubs turning gold, orange and red. They’re accompanied by blooming mums and asters.

“We have a large number of really beautiful fall color plants,” Sellman-Sant said. “The farm looks fantastic in fall.”

Debbie Arrington: 916-321-1075, @debarrington

Amador Flower Farm

Where: 22001 Shenandoah School Road, Plymouth

When: Open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily through Nov. 30; open Thursdays-Sundays Dec. 1-Feb. 28.

Admission: Free

Details: 209-245-6660, www.amadorflowerfarm.com

Special events

▪ Labor Day Progressive Picnic, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5: Visit the farm and neighboring wineries on Shenandoah School Road, each with its own course. Free ice cream will be served at the farm.

▪ Grandparents Day, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11: Bring the grandparents for a picnic with free ice cream for everybody.

▪ 20th annual Fall Fun Days, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Oct. 1-2: This family fest includes the opening of the farm’s pumpkin patch, corn maze, hay bale maze and more. Also find food and garden gift vendors and take a free tram tour.

▪ Pumpkin Patch, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 1-31: One of the largest pumpkin patches in the foothills features more than 10,000 pumpkins in 50-plus varieties, grown on site.

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