What to do in your garden in March

garden borders
Norm Plate
Pink sweet William and poppies play off yellow daylilies and silvery
PLANTING • Groundcovers. Sunset climate zones 7-9, 14-17: To make lawn care easier, consider replacing at least part of your turf with less thirsty groundcovers. Those that do well in Northern California include juniper ( J. communis ‘Mondap’, J. conferta ‘Blue Pacific’, J. c. ‘Emerald Sea’, J. horizontalis ‘Monber’, J. h. ‘Prince of Wales’), kinnikinnick ( Arctostaphylos uva-ursi ‘Wood’s Compact’), Myoporum parvifolium, rosemary ( Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Huntington Carpet’), and Rubus pentalobus ‘Emerald Carpet’. Before buying, make sure the groundcover you want will work in your microclimate. • Lilies. Zones 7-9, 14-17: For fragrance and sheer drama in the garden, you can’t beat lilies. Two all-time favorites are ‘Casablanca’ and ‘Stargazer’. For something different, try orange tiger lilies. If your local nursery doesn’t carry them, order from Dutch Gardens ( www.dutchgardens.com or 800/944-2250). Lime. Zones 7-9, 14-17: If you like Thai cooking, plant a ‘Kieffer’ lime tree now. Its segmented leaves are used in Thai green curries, while the peel of its bumpy green fruit adds a unique flavor to stews and fish cakes (the juice is rarely used in cooking). Like all limes, the tree is hardy to about 32°. In areas where trees are borderline hardy, provide frost protection by covering plants in the ground with a frost blanket or setting potted plants under an overhang. In cold climates, move potted plants indoors. You can buy one-year-old or two- to three-year-old trees online from Four Winds Growers ( www.fourwindsgrowers.com).

Potatoes. Zones 7-9, 14-17: Varieties that are new for 2005 come in a range of colors and flavors, including ‘All Blue’, ‘Purple Peruvian’, red ‘Sangre’, and ‘Yellow Finn’. Order these or one of the other 40 disease-free varieties available from Irish Eyes-Garden City Seeds ( www.irish-eyes.com or 877/733-3001).

Tuberous begonias. Zones 7-9, 14-17: Now is the time to start tubers. To plant, fill a container with potting mix, set the tuber just below the soil surface, then soak the soil with water. Set the pot in filtered shade. Don’t water again until the top of the soil feels dry. Sprouts should appear in a few weeks. Zones 1-2: Start tubers in a greenhouse or indoors in a cool, dry place. When leaves appear, place in bright, indirect light and keep at 65° to 70°. Move outdoors when danger of frost has passed. MAINTENANCE

Check drip systems. Zones 7-9, 14-17: Flush out sediment from filters and check screens for algae; clean with a small brush, if necessary. Turn on the water and check for leaks in the lines; repair as needed. At the same time, make sure all emitters are dripping water. If some are clogged, replace them (if you can’t remove one, install a new emitter next to it). You may also need to add emitters to some lines if plants have grown significantly since the system was installed. For supplies, visit your local home center or irrigation supply store, or order by mail from the Urban Farmer Store ( www.urbanfarmerstore.com or 415/661-2204).

EVENTS LIVERMORE, MAR 12-13, MAR 19-20 The Golden Celebration is sponsored by the Northern California Daffodil Society and Alden Lane Nursery. See hundreds of daffodils on display, buy blooms, and attend a planting class. Mar 12-13, 1-5 Sat, 9-4 Sun; free. Annual citrus tasting. Sample dozens of varieties not commonly found in grocery stores, and purchase plants. Mar 19-20, 11-2; free. Alden Lane Nursery, 981 Alden Lane; www.aldenlane.com or 925/447-0280. MONTEREY, MAR 19

49th Annual Monterey Cutting Day. Exchange cuttings, plants, bulbs, and seeds with other gardening fans. Sponsored by the Monterey Parks Division, which will also give away tree seedlings. 9-12; free. Colton Hall/Friendly Plaza at Jefferson and Pacific Streets; www.monterey.org or 831/646-3860.

SAN FRANCISCO, MAR 16-20 20th Annual San Francisco Flower & Garden Show. This year’s event features 23 display gardens by noted designers, free seminars, workshops by horticultural experts, and a garden marketplace. 9-8 Wed-Sat, 9-6:30 Sun; $20 ($17 if purchased by Mar 8), $7 ages 4-11. Cow Palace, Geneva Ave. and Santos St.; www.gardenshow.com or 800/829-9751.