These past several weeks of mild temperatures have made it seem as though spring has arrived. Many garden plants have broken dormancy with the emergence of new leaves on herbaceous perennials and swollen buds on woody ornamentals and fruit trees. As long as these mild temperatures prevail, it looks as though we are headed for a very early spring.

This could all come to a screeching halt however, if temperatures plummet. If the forecast should call for temperatures to drop below freezing, you may want to cover early blooming shrubs with a blanket or plastic sheet for protection.

Most herbaceous perennials can tolerate some cold temperatures with minimal damage. Covering new foliage with a light mulch will help to reduce plant damage if below freezing temperatures are forecast.

We are so very fortunate to live in our coastal area which allows us to enjoy gardening activities this time of the year. Mild February days are perfect for pruning landscape plants and fruit trees, applying dormant sprays, pulling weeds, transplanting and giving the lawn its first mowing of the year.

EDITOR'S NOTE: For answers to local gardening questions, contact Master Gardener Rachel Gana at 642-8723 or e-mail her at: baiter1@pacifier.com.

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