GARDEN FANATIC:February garden chores

“Walk in the rain, jump in mud puddles, collect rainbows and roses, smell flowers … "

“I love Mickey Mouse more than any woman I’ve ever known.”

For those of you who had forgotten... February is the month for rain. With predictions of showers this weekend, it appears that we are leaving a relatively dry period and returning to a more normal period of wetter weather. This is the prime time to plant bare root roses. Moist soil and our warm winters will have those roses blooming before March. Your favorite nursery is currently offering their largest selection and best values of the year.

We have until the end of February to plant bare roots and/or prune our existing roses. Generally, I don’t recommend removing more than 1/3 of a rose. And I suggest that you just strip the leaves off existing climbing roses. Otherwise, you will be pruning off this season’s flowers.


When you are pruning, seal cuts when they are larger than 1/2" in diameter on roses and other deciduous plants. Pruning paint is a convenient way to keep diseases from entering pruning cuts (think of it as a bandage). Dormant sprays should be applied after pruning, prior to the appearance of new leaves.

This is also a great time to plant lawns — either to fix a small spot or put in an entire plot (believe the Marathon grass commercial, it’s true). It is important to prepare the soil properly first, by adding a good quality, hardwood compost, such as gypsite, and pre-plant fertilizer. Cool season grasses like Marathon, other tall fescues, and bluegrass will benefit from fertilization during the winter.

Here’s a pest alert — Catharine tells me that aphids are already appearing on the foliage of her new, red roses because of the unseasonably warm weather. Use water and ultra-fine oil to wash them off. Snails and slugs are active, particularly after a rain shower. “That’s It” snail granules will provide excellent control without endangering your pets.

Winter is my favorite time for color. I love pansies, snapdragons, stock, the primroses and particularly Iceland poppies. Once again, prepare the soil properly to ensure success.


Valentines Day, for those of you who may have forgotten, arrives next Wednesday. It is the day when we proclaim the love we have for that special someone. Catharine and I will celebrate at the Music Center, reminiscing about being “13", the musical comedy playing there. I’m sure we will be grateful for being where we are as well. See you next time.

  • is happily married to award winning writer, Catharine Cooper, and has two cats and five dogs. He can be reached at (949) 497.2438, or e-mail to