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Wintersweet-a winter blooming tree (chimonanthus precox)

Gardening January 2013: Some plants like it cold

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 6X
Last Modified: Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013 - 6:28 pm

Some plants like it cold. They're beautiful when temperatures plummet and frost is in the air.

Mother Nature has provided a wealth of shrubs and trees that bloom when the calendar says it's winter. Many have scented flowers. Plant them along walkways, even near the front door. Here are a few to enjoy throughout the year, but especially in winter:

Wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox): A quiet stalwart in the garden three seasons of the year, it sheds its leaves in autumn and by January produces hundreds of tiny yellow, fragrant flowers that dangle from the branches like miniature Christmas lights.

Sweet Box (Sarcococca confusa): This evergreen Himalayan native produces ribbonlike, scented white flowers on the underside of the stems. The plant then makes plump red berries that turn to black. It has beautiful glossy green foliage. If you grow just one winter bloomer, choose this one.

Kniphofia Christmas Cheer: They are commonly known as red-hot pokers. This one blooms in December and January. It's tall flower stalks tower above the strappy leaves. Best planted at the back of the border, or where you see it from a distance.

JANUARY CHECKLIST

• January is bare-root season for fruit trees, berry vines, grapevines, shrubs, roses, artichoke crowns and more. Buying bare-root is less expensive than buying a plant already potted. If the soil is too wet to work, dig a trench and lay the plants in it, then lightly cover the roots with soil or compost until you can plant.

• Spray fruit trees with dormant oil to kill overwintering insects (such as scale) and to control powdery mildew.

Prune fruit trees. If you don't know how, buy a book on fruit and nut trees and take it into the garden with you and read about each type of fruit tree before you make any cuts.

Cut grapevines back, leaving two to three buds per side shoot.

Prune hybrid tea roses: Cut out spindly wood. Cut away crossing branches. Take out old canes. Don't worry if there are flower buds. Leave the newest, strongest canes. The idea is to get plants ready for spring. Always use sharp shears, and make all cuts on a slant. Wait until spring to prune climbing roses.

Cut berry vines that bore fruit last year to the ground. Clear away all debris in the berry patch and apply a new layer of mulch.

For a succession of bloom, plant gladiolus every two weeks. Plant them in clumps.

Order seeds for this year's vegetable garden.

If you have crabgrass in your lawn, now is the best time to apply a pre-emergent.

Plant calendula, candytuft, English daisy, Iceland poppy, pansy, primrose, snapdragons sweet pea and viola.

Vegetables to plant this month: broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, parsley, peas, carrots, radishes and turnips.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by by Pat Rubin



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