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If you are familiar with the area around the Historic Napa Mill and Napa River Inn in downtown Napa, you may have noticed the beautiful landscaping. The design seems to balance the art and architecture all around the complex, using large containers.

Not long ago, I was having coffee there with recent graduates of the Napa County Master Gardener training class. We were admiring the premises, including the wide varieties of roses and hydrangeas. Perhaps because we had just completed four months of training with horticultural experts from UC Davis, we were curious about the design and wondering how the plants could survive and thrive in containers.

We happened to notice a lady wearing a large hat and gardening gloves who seemed to know her way around the garden. Her name is Diane Row, and as we discovered, she was the creative inspiration behind the plantings.

Row loved sharing her wealth of information with us, and we learned a little about her background. She had been a Master Gardener in Denver and had studied landscape design with John Brooks, a renowned designer of royal gardens in the United Kingdom. She had also studied floral design at the Constance Spry Flower School, which provides flowers for Buckingham Palace.

Row eventually taught classes at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Her clients have included the Denver Botanic Gardens, The Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park and Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum. She moved to Napa in 1998 and was excited to join Harry Price’s team to help to transform the Napa Mill property.

She helped us identify the many varieties of plants on the premises, including (my favorite) the Cape honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis) climbing the wall outside of the Napa General Store. She explained her color choices, which center on warm oranges, yellows and pinks contrasted with bright and dark green foliage. She advised us to make sure that containers have sufficient holes in the bottom for good drainage. She matches specific fertilizers to the plants and fertilizes on a schedule from spring through fall.

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The containers are watered by hand, so Row relies on part-time help, especially in summer. She told us that she can always use a volunteer or two to assist in keeping the premises beautiful year-round.

I encourage you to seek out Diane Row at the Mill, especially if would like a tour of the Historic Napa Mill gardens. Be sure to thank her for her wonderful work in helping keep Napa beautiful. Diane is truly a gardener’s inspiration.

Workshop: U. C. Master Gardeners of Napa County will conduct a workshop on “How to Plan and Plant a Home Vineyard” on Saturday, Jan. 12, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., in Yountville. Join our Integrated Grape Team members to learn techniques for planning and planting a home vineyard.

The workshop will be held at a new home vineyard planted last year. Learn the necessary planning steps, become familiar with the checklist of activities, methods of determining the proper rootstock, selection of wine grape varietals for specific locations and estimated yield calculations. Review our calendar timeline for planning, site preparation, initial planting and timing of the first harvest for a new home vineyard. Online registration (credit card only); mail-in/walk-in registration (check only or drop off cash payment).

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UC Master Gardeners of Napa County ( http://ucanr.edu/ucmgnapa/) answer gardening questions on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 9 a.m. to noon, at the UC Cooperative Extension office, 1710 Soscol Ave., Suite 4, Napa, 707-253-4143.

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