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Fresno blossom touring.

The San Joaquin Valley is a Cinderella. Once a year, it puts aside its working duds and tosses on something drop-dead beautiful. We're referring, of course, to the blossom display of late winter and early spring-when the peach, plum, almond, and other trees that earn the valley its living become clouds of color. Fresno County visitors' groups have devised an 85-mile driving tour that takes you past the county's most dependably spectacular blooms. Also this month, the Fresno Metropolitan Museum salutes the season with its own related exhibits.

Fresno's blooming schedule

The floral finery has a sound economic base: these tree crops (plums rank sixth among the county's products, nectarines seventh, peaches tenth) help make this the nation's richest agricultural county.

We give approximate bloom dates in a normal year. Warm winter weather can speed up the bloom and cold weather delay it; for local updates, call the Fresno visitors bureau (number above right).

Almonds. February 10 through March 15. Blossoms are white or pale pink.

Apricots. February 15 through March 1. Reddish buds, palest pink blossoms.

Plums. February 15 through March 1. Blossoms are pink-tinged white.

Peaches, nectarines. March I through March 15. Pink-to-red blossoms.

Apples. March 20 through April 7. Trees explode with white flowers.

Citrus (lemons, and navel and Valencia oranges). April 15 through May 7.

Creamy blossoms.

Our map shows the tour route; outside the Fresno city limits, roads traveled are generally two-lane country roads. For more details, get a free Blossom Trail brochure from the Fresno City and County Convention and Visitors Bureau, 808 M St., Fresno 93721; (209) 233-0836.

The tour has two nonblossom stops we particularly like. In the tiny crossroads of Minkler, the 1920s Minkler Grocery and Feed Store (on State 180) is a Walker Evans photograph come to life; it's open 8 to 6 daily. On State 180 at Frankwood Avenue, the Sherwood Inn is an 1890 schoolhouse made into a restaurant, open for dinner 4:30 to 9 daily except Mondays, from 3:30 Sundays; 787-2594.

Beaucoup bouquets at Fresno Met

This month the Fresno Metropolitan Museum sponsors its third annual exhibition, The Met in Bloom, timed for blossom season. The show, March 22 through 25, includes floral displays based on museum exhibits, classes, and other events.

The museum, at 1515 Van Ness Avenue, is open from 11 to 5 Thursdays through Sundays and 11 to 7 Wednesdays. Admission is $3. Telephone is 441-1444.
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Date:Mar 1, 1990
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