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Categories: Gardening

[CP][P] [BR] [B {PLANT NOW}][BR] [B {Blue geraniums}] Create a sea of blue in your spring-to-fall landscape with hardy blue-blooming true geraniums; plant them now so roots can get established in cool weather. Robin Parer, owner of [XLINK “” “Geraniaceae nursery” “” “_new”] in Kentfield shares her favorites from the almost 50 types of blue geraniums that she sells: [I {Geranium}] ‘Blue Cloud’, [I {G}]. ‘Orion’, [I {G}]. ‘Rozanne’, and [I {G. pratense}] ‘Mrs. Kendall Clark’; 415/461-4168). [CP][P] [B {Bulbs}] Plant crocuses, daffodils, tulips, and other spring-flowering bulbs. Most are sun lovers, but some, such as spring star flower [I { (Ipheion uniflorum),}] tolerate partial shade as well. Brent Heath of [XLINK “” “Brent and Becky’s Bulbs” “” “_new”] 877/661-2852 recommends ‘Jessie’ and ‘Rolf Fiedler’, both blue, and ‘White Star’. They make beautiful, fragrant sweeps when planted alone, or “wonderful shoes and socks” for tall tulips and narcissus, Heath says; 877/661-2852. Related story: [XLINK “/sunset/home/article/0,20633,1659671,00.html” “How to plant bulbs”] [CP][P] [B {Fall flowers}] Compost summer displays that are petering out and replant with fresh, late-blooming annuals like cosmos and zinnias or perennials like asters and salvias, which flower through fall. Gary Ratway of [XLINK “” “Digging Dog Nursery” “” “_new”] in Albion recommends tall, architectural, violet-blue [I {Aster cordifolius}] ‘Little Carlow’, [I {A. lateri-florus}] ‘White Lovely’ (whose big sprays of blossoms “appear like a cloud,” Ratway says), and low-growing, pale purple [I {A. pyrenaeus}] ‘Lutetia’; 707/937-1235. [CP][P] [B {Fava beans}] [I {Sunset climate zones 7[SPECIAL_CHAR {150}]9, 10, 14[SPECIAL_CHAR {150}]}]17: Fava beans are an easy and rewarding crop [SPECIAL_CHAR {151}] especially if you’re new to cool-season vegetable gardening. Large seeds produce sturdy, frost-tolerant plants with fragrant blossoms and a succulent spring harvest far superior to wilted favas in grocery stores. Order seeds now and plant them when daytime temperatures fall below 75[SPECIAL_CHAR {176}] (usually mid-September to November). Seeds are available from [XLINK “” “Peaceful Valley Farm [SPECIAL_CHAR {38}] Garden Supply” “” “_new”]; 888/784-1722. [CP][P] [B {TIDY UP}][BR] [B {Clear fire hazards}] If you live in a fire-prone area, clean up dry brush, grass, leaves, and debris within 30 feet of your home if you haven’t already done so. Remove dead and diseased wood from trees and shrubs, and keep branches trimmed at least 15 feet from your house. Clean off any plant debris that may have accumulated on the roof. [CP][P] [B {Refresh lawns}] Improve water absorption and reduce water waste by raking out the thatch between grass and soil. Then aerate your lawn with a hollow-tine aerator that brings plugs of soil to the surface. Remove lawn from banks and slopes where there is irrigation runoff, and replant with drought-tolerant ornamental grasses or perennials such as prairie dropseed [I {(Sporobolus heterolepis)}] and Russian sage [I {(Perovskia)}]. Finally, recalibrate the irrigation system. [CP][P] [B {Tend roses}] Zones 7[SPECIAL_CHAR {150}]9, 14[SPECIAL_CHAR {150}]17: Water plants regularly and deeply (if water supplies allow) during hot, dry weather. To bring on a flush of flowers in fall, remove spent blooms, cutting stems just above a leaf with five leaflets to encourage new buds to grow. Fertilize plants with a general-purpose organic fertilizer or commercial rose food. Water plants before and immediately after fertilizing. Related story: [XLINK “/sunset/garden/superpackage/0,22336,1571744,00.html” “Grow beautiful roses”] [CP][P] [ARTICLE_IMAGE 1 L] [B {SOW NOW, SNIP LATER}][BR] Rich purple ‘Cupani’ sweet peas and electric orange California poppies create an irresistible mood-lifting combination. In mild-winter areas, plant seeds of both in full sun now for copious blooms in spring. (In cold climates, hold off on the fragrant, vining sweet peas and start them indoors in February or March, then transplant them outdoors as soon as the soil can be worked.) When the first warm spring days hit, you’ll get a flurry of flowers that are perfect for spontaneous bouquets.[BR] [SPECIAL_CHAR {150}]Elizabeth Jardina[CP][P] [XLINK “” “Fresh Dirt: Get the latest tips, tricks, and planting ideas on our garden blog [SPECIAL_CHAR {187}] “] [CP]

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