With the Internet, as with many things, most of us have an ongoing love-hate relationship. Hate those darned cookies, but love the email. Hate learning the latest version of Microsoft; love Google. For gardeners, the Internet is an ever-expanding resource. There are sites to help select plants for a particular setting and others that offer useful tips on how to design and build garden features. Here are a few of my favorites, although there are certainly many, many more.

You may not be ready to landscape your whole garden with native plants, but in these times of reduced water resources, a few un-thirsty California natives could be just what you need. Las Pilitas Nursery has a fantastic Web site chock full of information about growing California natives (and a few nonnatives). One stellar feature is their plant search that allows you to “describe” your site and find plants that are perfect to grow there. Visit mynativeplants.com/site.

If it is trees that you are looking to include in your landscape, try this site developed by students and faculty at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo: selectree.calpoly.edu. While you can’t buy directly from them, San Marcos Growers, a wholesale nursery in Goleta, also has lots of great information about growing plants suitable for our area. Check out smgrowers.com. Search features include plant listings by plant type, geography, and more.

Other sites contain helpful information on everything from building a rock wall to designing a vegetable garden in raised beds. Read articles at backyard-landscaping-ideas.com/index.shtml on different garden styles, child-friendly or dog-friendly gardens, and more. Search through Landscape Online’s archives of informative news and instructional magazine articles at landscapeonline.com/research/index.php. And to learn how to nurture the larger world, starting in your own garden, visit Landscaping for a Healthy Planet at envirolandscaping.org.

One last site for a more interactive source of help is the Ask Mr. Smarty Plants page on the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center‘s Web site. Type in your question and get it answered by an expert (wildflower.org/expert). Recently answered questions are also posted for your perusal.

December Tips

  • Buy and plant bare root shrubs and trees such as roses, fruit trees, and flowering trees.
  • Once foliage is off, apply dormant sprays to peaches and nectarines.
  • Prune dormant shrubs and trees for shape and fruit production.
  • Keep living Christmas trees indoors only seven to 10 days and do not place near heat registers. To avoid drips, water by placing a tray of ice cubes on surface of soil.


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