In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
January, 2005
Regional Report

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For year-after-year gratification, choose varieties of daffodils that naturalize well in southern California.

New Garden Toys and Techniques

With our annual penchant for making resolutions, my intrigue with some new items in garden catalogs and local nurseries leads me to make my own list of "Must Trys" for the upcoming gardening year. Perhaps some of them also will inspire you to join me in the adventure.

Best-quality garden shoes. I've always made do with old clogs or moccasins that had become too scuffed and worn to wear in public. But my feet became increasingly tired after only half an hour, and I was constantly slipping and sliding when working in my hillside garden. I determined to get something more appropriate.

A gift certificate from a friend to our local Smith & Hawken store cinched my decision, and I purchased their Mud Shoe. It's just short of $50, but with a mere 3 days' use, I'm most thankful to my friend. The shoes are easy to slip on and off without bending, have ridged bottoms, and are wonderfully molded and cushioned so my feet are completely comfortable, and I can wear them all day without becoming exhausted. Definitely worth my spending "too much" for the perfect tool!

Twenty years ago, I came to the same conclusion with a friend's gift of a long-handled spading fork, which enabled me to heave garden beds without damaging my back. But, it is hard for us to convince ourselves to buy the best!

Small water garden. A local botanic garden had a surplus of water lilies, Louisiana iris, dwarf papyrus, water hyacinths, and some other water-lovers, so I claimed some. They've been sitting in various buckets awaiting a real home. Now, a friend has moved and left me her big, deep pot without a drainage hole. So, now I'll purchase some water garden soil mix and create a new garden. Because this will be "still" water, without a pump to keep it moving, I'll depend on Mosquito Dunks with their Bacillus thuringiensis 'israelensis' to kill any mosquito larvae.

Tall flower stakes. Last year's lily collection grew taller than I'd expected, so I had to jury-rig support for the blooms. This year, I'll purchase some of the 36-inch and 48-inch stakes with the little loop at the top to stabilize these beauties. Like my other tomato cages and stakes, I consider this to be a wise purchase since they'll last forever.

Worm compost (castings). This wonderfully concentrated fertilizer/soil amendment is easily "made" indoors or out (since there's no odor) in a 2-foot-square bin. The liquid "tea" and castings are easily separated from the worms for adding to houseplants, container plants, and outdoor garden beds.

Naturalizing flower bulbs. After years of purchasing beauties from catalogs and even local nurseries, only to find they were one-timers, I've determined to spend my money only on bulbs known to naturalize well here in southern California. Many times, it's just a matter of choosing a specific variety of a well-known favorite.


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