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GARDENERS CAN DIG A GIFT BOOK ON COMPOSTING

"When I saw this book, of course I thought of you," you can tell the recipient of this holiday gift, Mike McGrath's Book of Compost (Sterling, $9.95). McGrath is host of the NPR program You Bet Your Garden and former editor-in-chief of Organic Gardening magazine. In short, chatty chapters he explains what, how and where to compost and why proper composting is the answer to virtually all of your gardening problems.

Showtime rose takes center stage

Add this to your Christmas list, rose-growers: Showtime, a new rose from the Easy Elegance Rose Collection. Clear-red blooms surround golden stamens that give the centers a reddish-orange glow. This will grow into a climber in our warm climate. Grows 3 to 8 feet; it's a recurrent bloomer with flowers 3-1/2 inches across. Grows on its own roots. Don't be afraid to let Santa know what you want. Details and more about other new roses at easyelegance.com.

A flowerbed's best friend? Diamonds

When you go poinsettia shopping this year, look for Diamond Frost euphorbia, a new plant. It's tough (loves sun, loves drought) and looks like zillions of tiny sparkling diamonds. Many growers are planting Diamond Frost around their poinsettias in containers to give the impression of a red poinsettia sitting on a bed of newly fallen snow.

Poinsettias add merry new hues

Speaking of poinsettias, there's a lot more out there than red, pink and cream. Look for orange and gold this year. Care for your poinsettias by checking each day and watering when the surface is dry. Remove foil wraps; they trap water and suffocate roots.

Crape myrtle can be safely moved

Transplanting crape myrtle can be done easily during the winter months. Large plants can be moved for an immediate effect on the landscape. One fascinating aspect of the crape myrtle is its unusual form. With selective pruning, the unusual, sculptured plant can be enjoyed year-round. As the tree ages, the smooth brown bark peels off in irregular shapes, leaving an attractive mottled design.

Help plants stay on the sunny side

During these short days with limited sunlight, move your plants from one area of the landscape to another. Plants that were in the sun last summer may now be in shade, and vice versa, says Month-by-Month Gardening in Florida, by Tom MacCubbin.

Compiled by Homes and Garden Editor Judy Stark from staff and wire reports and the Pinellas County Extension.

JUST PEACHY

Spray peaches and nectarines now with fungicide and repeat in January. Yes, they grow in Florida!

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