Sherwood Demonstration Garden in Placerville
Sheri Burke, Sue McDavid and Kelly Auville
There was magic in the air on the day Sherwood Demonstration Garden (SDG) opened to the public. Literally, there were butterflies everywhere, flitting about like fairies as they danced to enchanting harp music and greeted garden guests.
This summer, SDG is once again in full bloom, filled with flowers, vegetables, frogs and yes, butterflies. Open on Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon through October, the garden welcomes visitors to experience its beauty.
Created by the UCCE Master Gardeners of El Dorado County, the one-and-one-half-acre plot is divided into 16 separate and imaginative gardens. Named for Bob Sherwood—the late Master Gardener who started developing the idea in 2008—the garden has grown like a weed since it took root in 2015. From its very first fund-raiser—a plant sale at the El Dorado County Library in 2009—to last fall’s installation of a kiosk at the entrance, the garden has given its creators many rewards for all the blood, sweat and tears they’ve put into it.
“It’s a joy to see the garden filled with friends, donors, volunteers, neighbors and community members,” says UCCE Master Gardener Program Coordinator Tracy Celio. “On that magical opening day, and every day, the butterflies remind us that gardens exist not just for the pleasure and education of people but for the enjoyment of pollinators, birds, frogs and many other creatures.”
Sheri Burke, who replaced Sherwood as chairman after his unexpected passing in 2014, agrees. “It’s been a labor of love and the best thing I’ve done for myself. It truly feeds the soul,” she says. Sherwood’s wife, Jan, remains an honorary Master Gardener and continues to enjoy the space her husband envisioned.
The 16 gardens are imaginative and functional in concept. The Children’s Garden features kid-friendly favorites—pumpkins, colorful flowers, tasty vegetables and tall sunflowers, along with dwarf nectarine and peach trees (with easy-to-reach fruit that can be picked). What’s more, children’s art is displayed on 4x4 posts.
The Vegetable Garden provides visitors with ideas for growing season-appropriate veggies that thrive in El Dorado County’s climate. Constructed as a teaching garden, various gardening techniques are demonstrated using raised beds and drip irrigation. It’s also the place to be for “Saturdays with Barry,” a class held every second Saturday where Barry Wold shares veggie growing tips and more.
Another favorite is the Rose Garden, where the blooms are arranged by color and all named. In addition, there’s helpful instructions on correct placement and best growing practices, along with pruning techniques.
There’s much to see and learn all summer long. “Come and tour at your leisure,” Celio encourages. “Speak with one of our Master Gardener volunteer docents, who are here to answer your gardening and landscape questions. We are also open for private tours and field trips, which can be arranged ahead of time for your group.”
El Dorado Center—Folsom Lake College, 6699 Campus Drive, Placerville (next to the Community Observatory)
9 a.m.-noon (Fridays and Saturdays)
Summer Pruning Demonstration (June 3); Saturdays with Barry
By Janet Scherr // Photos by Dante Fontana © Style Media Group