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One of my favorite things about living in San Diego is the abundance of year-round flower color we enjoy. A walk through Balboa Park will reveal a spectacle of winter color this time of year.
Near the central fountain you will see a blanketing of snow-like white flowers on the Evergreen Pear Trees (Pyrus kawakamii), a fantastic flurry without the chill (see the top left photo).
New reduced-water natives are flourishing on the hillside area near the bridge across Park Boulevard.
Notice the wonderfully cheerful true blue and lightly scented flowers of our California Lilac (Ceantohus sp.) (middle left photo) have been paired with another radiant yellow flowering native, the Flannel Bush (Fremontodendron californica) (bottom left photo).
In the succulent garden, you will see the Aloe plants (Aloe arborescens) in full bloom with their deep orange-red torch like flower clusters.
These are a favorite of hummingbirds, so be aware; you may experience a high-speed fly-by.
Another great thing about our winter gardening season is the amazing availability of bare root roses and fruit trees.
Walter Andersen Nursery is one of my favorite suppliers of these bare root plants and for any information you might want to know about them.
Some things to consider are the eventual mature size of the plants, the flower or fruiting effect, disease resistance and for the stone fruit trees the amount of chill hours required for successful fruiting.
Looking at their website, you will see over 130 types of bare root roses available. The amazing choices and the lower cost of bare root roses in comparison to potted roses, makes this an exciting time of year for the avid rose enthusiast.
Here are some of my favorites that are available.
First, there's the Barbara Streisand rose. This extremely prolific lavender rose is one of the best lavender-colored roses produced, in my humble opinion.
If you're talking about an overall best performer, my favorite in this category is the Double Delight rose. Its vibrant coloring is red near the petal edges and then it fades to pink, then white, near the center. Double Delight has a strong and pleasing fruity scent and is also disease resistant, which makes the overall plant healthier and more attractive.
Here is another divine favorite, the Pink Flamingo. This deep pink rose has color resembling the bird that it is named for. Even John Waters would approve.
The Eternal Flame, as well as being a great song by The Bangles, is a cheerful light yellow rose variety with a pleasant light citrus scent.
Lastly, we will finish with a legend, the Marilyn Monroe rose. These large curvy roses are apricot and blond. Like its name, this legendary performer is known for its stunning role in the garden.
As far as winter maintenance, clean up leaf litter in a timely manner. Fall leaves are a great place for bugs to over-winter in your garden.
Fruit trees can be applied with a dormant oil spray to reduce pests and improve fruit production. Inch worms and caterpillars on your plants are there for a reason, as irritating as they can be. Remember that they will turn into moths and butterflies later.
If the damage to your plants by them is absolutely too unpleasant, they can be managed with a product called BT. This poison is specific to worms and does not harm animals or people when applied correctly.
I only use pesticides that are safe and only when necessary.
Whether it's your own garden or our abundance of public space gardens, enjoy this winter luxury, only available to those in very temperate climates.
Michael S. Waters, award-winning landscape designer and owner of Waters Wise Landscape Design, has been creating aesthetically pleasing, reduced water landscaping in San Diego since 2001. Call (619) 884-5521 or visit his website.