Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

December, 2006
Regional Report

Shop for Bare-Root Bargains

Bare-root roses, fruit trees, grapevines, artichokes, berry vines, and asparagus will be coming into nurseries soon. Shop early for best selection. This is the least expensive way to add to your garden, and bare-root plants adapt to native soil better than potted specimens. Keep roots damp by heeling in if you can't plant right away.

Plant Iceland Poppies

Iceland poppy (Papaver nudicaule) is a wonderful addition to any garden, even in windy areas. Colorful tissue paper-like flowers are held on long, fuzzy stems. Iceland poppy doesn't transplant well, so try not to disturb the roots and don't select plants that are already blooming in the nursery. Cell packs are the best way to go. Plant in full sun in fast-draining soil. Deadhead to keep plants blooming well into summer. Grasp the slender stem near the base, twist and pull to remove faded flowers.

Trim Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses, such as Stipa gigantea, Helichtotrichon sempervirens, and Pennisetum setaceum, can be trimmed now to look tidy through the winter. Use hedge shears to box the plants into tidy columns. They will stay this way until the weather begins to warm again.

Care for Feathered Friends

Keep birdbaths and feeders clean and full. Migrating birds will appreciate an overnight rest stop on their long journey south. Hummingbirds, especially, need fuel so keep those feeders full.

Tune Up Garden Tools

Next month, pruning begins in earnest, so clean and sharpen clippers and saws so they are ready for action. To clean and sharpen your cutting tools, you will need a flat file, a round file, and some lubricating spray, such as WD-40. If you like, you can treat wooden handles to a coating of linseed oil. After sharpening, use a lubricating oil on all moving parts, and clean the blades with a wire brush to remove any dirt or debris.

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