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Your checklist.

* PLANT

Shop for bare-root fruit trees for planting now through February. Check out stone-fruit crosses, such as pluots and apriums, which are suitable for California climates. In small spaces, consider a tree grafted with multiple varieties of the same fruit. raintreenursery.com

Plant cool-season flowers, including pansies, primroses, and stock, to add color to your garden. Choose plants with healthy leaves and budding flowers.

* MAINTAIN

Prune roses and fruit trees once branches have hardened (look for a dry, woody appearance without any greenness in bark). Remove any crossing branches or diseased wood, then make pruning cuts above leaf nodes to encourage direction of new growth and maintain size and plant shape.

Clear debris from your gutters to ensure runoff water from storms can easily percolate into your garden.

Prune blackberries by cutting canes that produced last summer's crop, then trellis remaining branches to prepare for new growth. Removing the tips of canes promotes the growth of lateral branches and more berries next season.

Clean garden beds of fallen leaves and debris to eliminate hiding spots for disease-carrying insects and pests. Dispose of any diseased leaves in your green-waste bin rather than in your compost pile.

* PROTECT When frost is predicted, protect avocado and citrus trees, especially young ones, by wrapping their trunks and covering their canopies with cloth overnight. (Burlap over a removable wood frame works well for small trees; it keeps cold cloth from touching leaves.) If a hard frost is predicted, deeply water all trees so they'll be better able to tolerate the cold temps.

Bring cold-sensitive potted plants indoors, or move them to a sheltered spot outdoors, such as under an awning.

* GO Join a Village Harvest trip. The nonprofit organization operates from Davis to San Jose, collecting backyard fruits (persimmons and citrus this month) from willing neighbors and donating the harvest to local food banks. More information at villageharvest.org.

Wintry mix

MORNING FROST can bring out the best in winter plants by highlighting their forms. In this garden, a variegated Spanish dagger (Yucca gloriosa) shows off its spiky shape against soft pink winter heath (Erica carnea). As the frost melts, the black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens') and Scotch heathers (Calluna vulgaris) in the foreground reveal their colors. The heathers, heaths, and yuccas are pruned once a year, just after flowering, to keep their structure. DESIGN: Ernie and Marietta O'Byrne, Northwest Garden Nursery, Eugene, OR; northwestgardennursery.com

What grows where you live? Find your Sunset climate zone at sunset.com/zonefinder.

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Title Annotation:NORTHERN CALIFORNIA; winter gardening
Publication:Sunset
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2013
Words:416
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