Melon Mania comes rolling in

It’s shaping up to be a great melon season at Penryn’s Maple Rock Gardens. That’s a good thing; the farm will host its first Melon Mania melon festival on Saturday, Aug. 23.

“You don’t know how stressful it is to try and hit a particular harvest date,” said Scott Paris, owner of Maple Rock Gardens. “It’s been a roller coaster.”

Despite the drought and early summer heat, tons of melons are ripening in Maple Rock’s fields right on time. Paris predicts thousands of melons in more than 40 varieties will be ready for Melon Mania. Most of these melons are heirloom varieties rarely seen in supermarkets. (And almost all of them have seeds.)

During a recent sneak peak at the melon patch, this Orangeglo watermelon was one of our favorites. It was sweet, juicy and delicious, but it was the spectacular bright orange color that really got us hooked.

During Melon Mania, Orangeglo and many more will be available for tasting along with other refreshments, melon-inspired treats and other great food, Paris said. Paris’ High Hand Conservatory will do the catering. Maple Rock, considered among Northern California’s most beautiful private gardens, will be open for tours. Its famous miniature railroad will be in chugging through its own imaginative landscape.

In addition, radio host and lifetime master gardener Farmer Fred Hoffman will conduct his own Farmer Fred University with lessons in seed saving and his golden rules of gardening.

Tickets ($10) are on sale now and available at High Hand Nursery, 3750 Taylor Road, Loomis, or online at