PLANNING AND PLANTING
Bare-root stock. Sunset climate zones 4-7, 17: Bare-root plants are inexpensive and easy to transport and plant. Many nurseries and garden centers offer everything from fruits like apples, grapes, and strawberries to perennial vegetables like asparagus. Look for ornamentals too: roses, flowering trees, and vines.
Hardy perennials. Start seeds of aster, delphinium, hellebore, primrose, Shasta daisy, veronica, and viola in a coldframe or greenhouse. Transplant seedlings into the garden about a month before the last spring frost.
Order seeds. Local seed sources offer varieties that grow well in the Northwest. Check out their websites or call for catalogs: Ed Hume Seeds ( www.humeseeds.com or 800/383-4863); Garden City Seeds ( www.irish-eyes.com or 509/964-7000); Nichols Garden Nursery ( www.nicholsgardennursery.com or 800/422-3985); Peters Seed and Research ( www.pioneer-net.com/psr/); Territorial Seed Company ( www.territorial-seed.com or 541/942-9547); and West Coast Seeds ( www.westcoastseeds.com or 604/952-8820). The Port Townsend, Washington, offices of Abundant Life Seeds ( www.abundantlifeseeds.com or 541/767-9606), a longtime favorite, were destroyed in a fire; the firm's assets were bought by Territorial Seed Company, which will continue to publish Abundant Life's catalog of open-pollinated certified-organic seeds, including heirlooms.
Winter-blooming shrubs. Zones 4-7: Scout nurseries for blooming specimens of Camellia sasanqua, sarcococca, Viburnum x bodnantense, wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox), and various witch hazels (Hamamelis).
Care for houseplants. Rinse indoor foliage plants under a shower of tepid water to wash off dust. Give flowering plants a light dose of liquid fertilizer to encourage more blooms.
Feed asparagus, rhubarb. Spread a 2-inch layer of composted manure over beds of dormant asparagus and rhubarb.
Prune fruit trees. On a day when the temperature is above freezing, prune out dead, diseased, and injured branches. Then remove closely parallel, rubbing, or crossing branches. Finally, prune for shape.
Prune roses. Cut back hybrid tea roses to the most vigorous three to five canes, removing any diseased and injured canes as you go. Prune landscape roses to shape. If you're growing rugosa roses, now is a good time to dig up and transplant (or discard) the suckers that pop up around each plant.
Spray dormant oil. To smother overwintering insect eggs and larvae, spray leafless fruit trees and roses with horticultural oil.