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October 11, 1998|Robert Smaus

Things to do in your garden this week.

Sweet Pea Season. Sow seeds of sweet peas now and they'll climb to the top of an eight-foot net or trellis by spring, covering your fence or garage wall with flowers. Some kinds are also fragrant, and two nurseries have gone out of their way to locate unusual and fragrant kinds; both Hortus in Pasadena and Heard's Country Gardens in Westminster have about 40 varieties.

Soak seeds overnight and make a little trench to sow them in. Instead of refilling the trench with soil, use potting mix or amendment mixed with sand to keep the seeds evenly moist but not soggy. Water thoroughly and keep damp until seedlings sprout.

Best Buys in Bulbs. Some of the bulbs that you can plant now will bloom in spring, then go dormant for summer and bloom again the following year. They'll last for years in the garden. You don't need to dig them up or do much of anything except let the foliage dry in late spring (before you cut it off) and keep the beds where they are planted on the dry side through summer.

These include bulbs such as watsonias, sparaxis, freesias, tritonias, ixias, babianas, scillas, muscari, most alliums, bearded and Dutch iris, oxalis, brodiaea and tritelia.

Ranunculus and the anemones named Tecolate probably won't bloom a second year, but they sure make a splash in spring and cost little.

Take It Off. Cut gingers and cannas to the ground when they finish blooming, and they'll be back fresh as a daisy in spring. Prune overgrown oleanders (as hard as you want) so they can grow through winter and flower next summer.

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