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GARDEN JOBS

March 16, 1986|GEORGE HARMON SCOTT

Plant gladiolus. They take about 100 days to bloom. By planting now, the warm-weather insect pest, thrips, can be avoided. Try using gladiolus for a temporary colorful accent in the back of a flower border. Their color range is amazing--there are even green-flowered gladiolus! Marigolds, too. They are among of the easiest summer annuals to grow from seed or flats. But watch for snails. Marigolds are available in many shapes and sizes in yellow, orange and bronze shades. Some years ago the late Sen. Everett Dirksen of Illinois lobbied to have the marigold named America's national flower. His efforts failed because other senators had their own contenders, such as columbine, some form of which grows wild in every state--and, of course, the ubiquitous rose. At one time Southern California was covered with orange groves, most of which have been victims of urbanization. We can preserve the image of an earlier, less-hectic California by growing citrus trees in our gardens. They have lustrous dark green foliage; their white flowers are many and extremely fragrant; and the ripe fruit is not only decorative but delicious.

The new dwarf citruses, which grow five to eight feet tall, are a good size for many gardens and excellent for large pots (20 inches plus). You may find some of the rarer or newer citrus interesting. Blood oranges ('Tarocco', 'Sanguinelli' and 'Moro') are the favorite juice oranges in Italy and Spain. And 'Oro Blanco' is a new, unusually sweet grapefruit hybrid that does not require heat to thrive, and does well near the coast. Generally, citruses do not make good lawn trees because they don't like the constant wetness that many lawns require. Winter lawns will stay green longer and dormant lawns will green up faster if you fertilize at this time. It is getting somewhat late to use a dormant weed killer--the type that kills weeds as they sprout. Don't delay.

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