Debbie Arrington

For Mother’s Day, instead of giving her a bouquet, try a whole garden tour

This formal garden “room” offers a shady gathering spot in an East Sacramento backyard. It’s one of the featured stops on the 2017 East Sacramento Garden Tour.
This formal garden “room” offers a shady gathering spot in an East Sacramento backyard. It’s one of the featured stops on the 2017 East Sacramento Garden Tour.

At times, it looks like a parade wandering through the Fabulous Forties.

Mothers and daughters, sometimes whole families, follow their maps to special stops. Each location is a gem, bringing out oohs and aahs of appreciation.

It’s the East Sacramento Garden Tour, a Mother’s Day weekend mainstay. More than 2,000 patrons are expected to take part this weekend.

“It’s a springtime tradition,” said Mary Odbert, one of the volunteers who works on the tour every May. “It just works with Mother’s Day. It’s special, something you don’t do all the time.”

Now marking its 19th Mother’s Day weekend, the tour celebrates the neighborhood around David Lubin Elementary School, the beneficiary of the tour’s proceeds. Dozens of parent volunteers such as Odbert have children attending Lubin.

“It’s really nice to see how it connects us with the community,” Odbert said. “Neighbors participate by opening their gardens. Businesses participate by selling tickets.”

The school itself opens its garden and serves as tour hub. Sutter Lawn Tennis Club hosts a special garden tea.

As for the gardens, this year’s seven stops feature a wide variety of styles. Among the highlights is a garden “room.”

“It’s like an extension of the house, but without any walls,” Odbert said. “It’s spectacular. It is completely open on all sides, but has a ‘roof’ that is art.”

Edible gardening is a popular theme this year, she noted. One garden weaves food-producing plants and herbs throughout its landscape.

“Edibles are growing everywhere,” Odbert said. “Beans are growing over the (patio’s) dining room table. It’s really interesting.”

For tickets and details, click on

Rosy reward

As one judge said, “This is a moment you’ll remember for the rest of your life.”

My “Marilyn Monroe” hybrid tea rose won Queen of Show, top honors at the recent 2017 Sacramento Rose Show. The win culminated at least 15 years of showing roses at one of Sacramento’s longest-running gardening club events. That followed nearly 20 years of exhibiting flowers at county fairs.

Yes, “showing roses” is an unusual hobby, but it’s cheaper than horses.

What makes a winning rose? Symmetry, color, vitality; besides a beautiful blossom, a rose needs a long straight stem and healthy foliage. Hundreds of roses competed in this 69th spring show. The difference came down to luck.

My reaction was shock mixed with enormous pride. In particular, I was proud that my champion came from a no-spray, low-water garden. I grow my roses organically with no pesticides; for the most part, they get weekly irrigation.

How do they look so good? I pay attention to bugs and fungal disease. If I see aphids accumulating, I knock them off with a cold blast of water. If I see a leaf puckering from powdery mildew, I remove that leaf before it can infect nearby plants.

Before displaying my roses, I “groom” them.

• To remove dust, I rinse the bloom and foliage, then check carefully for hidden bugs. (Gently shake the flower upside down over newsprint or a bucket of water; you never know what will fall out.)

• With small scissors, I trim off any damaged leaves or frayed edges.

•  I get the bloom to stand straight in its vase (sometimes with the help of a little plastic wrap wedged around the stem). Then with a clean cotton cloth, I carefully polish each leaf, gently rubbing it to bring out its natural shine.

These tips can help make any rose look its best – even if its place of honor is on your dining room table.

19th annual East Sacramento Garden Tour

Where: Start at David Lubin School, 3535 M St., Sacramento

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, May 13-14

Admission: $25; $15 luncheon; children under age 12 admitted free