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GARDEN FANATIC:Spring is in Laguna’s air

“If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” -- Percy Bysshe Shelley

“To be interested in the changing seasons is... a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” -- George Santayana

The calendar indicates that we still have five weeks to wait until the official beginning of spring (we have completed 56 days of winter as of today).

Subtle signs of the change in the seasons are appearing throughout town. Deciduous trees, like the sycamore and crape myrtle, are beginning to bud under cloudless, blue skies, and Catharine’s Mutabilis rose has already begun to display its bountiful blooms.

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Spring is in Laguna’s air... a time to enjoy warmer days and flowers. Words like dormant spray and bare root roses leave our vocabulary until next year. Begin to fertilize everything... shrubs, trees, perennials and the lawn. This is the season of rapid growth, and adding extra nutrients will enhance the beauty of your plants.

About the only problem a gardener may have is with those plants that you intended to plant, but you’ve been too busy golfing or attending the kid’s soccer matches to get to. If you still have Maui onions and bare root roses in plastic bags, they must be planted this weekend. This also applies to berries, artichokes, and the remaining spring bulbs sitting in the garage. Check with your local nursery person if you have forgotten what you were supposed to do with them.

Of course, the planting of tomatoes and herbs needn’t be hurried; the skies may become cloudy and chilly nights may still be lurking. After all, the days still belong to February. If you plant too early, your plants may be lost to the cold. Exercise a little patience... despite the rush to savor the first homegrown tomato. Your crops will arrive just a little later.

The advantages of planting in the spring are obvious... longer days and warmer sunlight. Once in the ground, plants have a full season’s growth before they enter their first winter after transplanting. But sometimes, due to other imperative spring pleasures (like a final ski trip) it is simply impossible to complete all of your garden plans. Relax, this is Laguna and we can plant all year long!

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The azaleas and camellias were particularly lovely this winter and are now reaching their peak flowering period. Old camellia flowers should be raked up and destroyed to prevent flower blight next season. Once all of the blooms are spent, fertilize both plants with a complete fertilizer for acid- loving plants. Finally, mulch the shade beds with azalea mix, peat moss, or leaf mold.

Almost lost in the flurry of early spring horticulture was the activity of our feathered friends. Nests have appeared everywhere and the insistent chirping and cheeping seems to indicate that a new generation of hummingbirds, finches and mockingbirds are on their way. Our spring flowers and bird feeders will provide a delectable and ample supply of food for them all. See you next time.


  • Steve Kawaratani 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 plantman2@mac.com.

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