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Garden Checklist: Think flowers inside and out

Red roses are highest in demand on Valentine’s Day
Red roses are highest in demand on Valentine’s Day Sacramento Bee file

Happy Valentine’s Day weekend – and Presidents Day weekend, too! Enjoy this long weekend with a little time outdoors.

▪ Thinking of flowers for your special someone? The Victorians liked to say it with flowers, using a color code to signify their deeper emotions. In “floriography” (the Victorian’s secret language of flowers), red roses signaled true love, a meaning still common today. A pink bouquet hinted at deep affection or falling in love, with hopes that the recipient felt the same. White meant purity, respect and chaste love (an appropriate flower to give your mom). Yellow roses represented lasting friendship.

▪ Instead of cut flowers, why not give a whole plant? A rose bush may not look like much more than a bundle of prickly canes right now, but over time it will produce many bouquets. But how to wrap it? If gifting a bare-root rose, cover the roots with wood shavings (if possible) and wrap them up inside brown paper or a large grocery bag, tied up with ribbon. (Once out of the bag or paper, soak those roots overnight before planting.) For a potted plant, nest the pot inside a plastic bag, then dress it up with tissue, paper and ribbon. Or cover it with brown wrapping paper, topped by burlap and raffia ties.

▪  If you haven’t already, get started on an early spring vegetable garden. Plant seed for beets, Swiss chard, collards, endive, fennel, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, peas, radicchio, radish and turnips. Transplant seedlings for broccoli, cabbage, kale, lettuce and leeks.

▪  Indoors, start tomatoes, eggplant and peppers from seed. They’ll be ready to transplant outdoors when the weather – and soil – warms in late April or early May.

▪  In the flower garden, plant seed for baby’s breath, calendula, California poppy, cornflower, forget-me-not, larkspur, nasturtium, nicotiana and snapdragon.