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February 08, 2001|ROBERT SMAUS

Things to do this week:

* Look at flowering trees. At this time of year, you can smell spring blossoms in the morning air. There is the strong, perfumy scent of winter-blooming jasmine, but also the more delicate fragrances of fruit trees. Many fruit trees, such as several kinds of flowering plum and cherry, are grown for their spectacular flowers and not their fruit. Fruiting apricots, peaches and plums also make quite a show at this time of year.

While not quite like a trip to Washington, D.C., at cherry blossom time, a visit now to one of our many botanic gardens is the best way to see which of these flowering fruit trees do best here (many don't). Then visit a nursery, where the biggest selection of deciduous trees of the year is still available, often as bare-root plants.

* Plant more veggies. The first crop or two of cool-season winter vegetables has probably finished by now. While there is not time to plant additional crops of some, such as cabbage and Brussels sprouts ("Big loss!" say some), there is plenty of coolish weather ahead for lettuces of all kinds, and even broccoli, so put in a second crop now. Lettuce is best grown from seed and will sprout quickly, but broccoli and other cole crops are best planted as transplants.

In addition, beets, carrots and radishes do well planted now from seed.

* Plant roses fast. If you still haven't bought or put in those bare-root rose plants, do so quickly. All the recent warm weather is going to make them sprout. If they do--before they get into the ground--and the sprouts are pale, whitish or elongated, experts say you can simply snap them off, plant and new sprouts from the secondary buds will take their place.

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