Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Favorite or New Plant
Plant a sweet olive (Osmanthus) now for winter fragrance. I love this inconspicuous shrub. It's very hardy, retains its shiny green foliage year-round, and in the winter is covered with tiny, inconsequential, sweetly-scented flowers that are similar in fragrance to daphne, although not so overpowering. Sweet olive isn't nearly as temperamental as daphne.
Provide rich, fast-draining soil, some shade in hot areas, and moderate moisture. I like to plant a sweet olive near the entryway so I can enjoy the fragrance each time I enter or leave the house.
Clever Gardening Technique
Do you get wounded in the line of battle while transplanting your potted cactus plants? Sometimes even leather gloves aren't enough to protect your hands from vicious thorns. Try surrounding the prickly culprit with a strip of thick, folded newspaper. The newspaper will act like a grip to hold the plant while you tap it out of the old pot. Grasp the paper collar close to the body of the cactus for best results.
Once you have the cactus set in position in the new pot, the newspaper collar easily supports it while you fill in with soil.