GARDEN FANATIC: Happy holiday gardening

“Tell me why"¦" "” Neil Young


Fully a week remains in November, prior to the anticipated onslaught of the holiday season. What are the reasons that Christmas and Hanukkah are requisite for not only generosity and selflessness, but also overindulgence and loneliness? I am not exactly sure, but there possibly could be a nexus to overeating, beginning at Thanksgiving. I’ll let you know, after I have finished one more serving of Catharine’s famous mashed potatoes.

Fresh air can often combat the effects of overconsumption, be it spirits, food or shopping. Holiday gardening does not begin with plastic Santas or automated reindeer (although it could end there). Waddle over to the mudroom, strap on your Felcos, and slip on your goatskin gloves. Breathe in the fresh air (hopefully your neighbor isn’t filling the air with smoke) and let’s check out the garden.


Sensibly, don’t trim your trees into Christmas tree shapes"¦ but this weekend is a good time to lace and trim. With cooler nights and diminished insect activity, it is safe to prune pine trees and eucalyptus. Thoughtful pruning will ensure the health of your trees and lessen the likelihood of wind damage, plants and property alike. In the true holiday spirit, it will also allow your neighbors to enjoy their treasured ocean and hillside views.

Are the heliotrope and salvia appearing a bit yellow and the lawn not quite green? Your plants are actively growing throughout the year in Laguna, and require fertilizer. Ask your favorite nursery person about holiday feeding, your plants will be glad you did.

Insects and snails have been tough this year, due to prolonged humid and warm days. Be vigilant for signs of pest damage: holey (not holy) leaves, insect frass (excrement), and slime trails. Control insects responsibly and don’t forget to pull weeds and rake debris, which can harbor pests and diseases.

Nothing lifts spirits more than color in the garden. Consider planting Iceland poppy, delphinium, snapdragon and pansy. And don’t forget to add a bright red poinsettia alongside your new flowers.


Finally, add a good layer of mulch around all of your plants. It will help suppress weeds, give the garden a “finished" look, and reduce water consumption (don’t forget to reduce water usage by 10%).

I have just completed my 50th rendition of the battle of the bulge. Consider that the lines have been drawn"¦ either give in to the holiday spirit and eat merrily, or be sensible and unhappy. I say, let the season be jolly and diet after the New Year. See you next week.

STEVE KAWARATANI is married to Catharine Cooper and has two cats and five dogs. He can be reached at (949) 497-8168, or e-mail to