I haven't seen too many fallen trees in my neighborhood, but March is early. Some trees in Bakersfield fall because of the sheer weight of their rain-soaked canopies, combined with sodden soil and inopportune wind storms. Good pruning of trees that are likely to topple is helpful, of course, but it also helps to properly stake trees when you plant them.

Trees are often incorrectly staked when they're planted. Many trees come from the nursery firmly tied to a stake. The stake-as-a-splint prevents tree trunks from developed strength. Trees need to be able to sway when they are young in order to develop tissue that creates a strong, flexible trunk. Keep a tree splinted and you reduce the chances that it will be able to stand on its own when it is finally freed. You're atrophying a tree if you keep it strapped to a stake.

A good way to stake is to drive two lodgepole stakes into the ground, approximately two feet from the trunk on opposite sides. I use two heavy, coated wires. I thread each through an approximately 1-foot-long length of old garden hose. The hose pads the wire and prevents damage to the trunk. Create a figure 8 with one of the wires, looping it around the hose-covered part of the wire around the tree trunk. Twist the sires once or twice, leaving several inches of space between the twist and the tree trunk. Anchor the ends of the wire to one of the lodge pole stakes with a couple of small nails. Repeat with the other wire on the other post, a bit higher or lower than the first wire.

As the tree grows and matures, it will develop the long, supportive tissue that will enable it to stand by itself. Test the tree in the following months by easing pressure off of the padded wires; if the tree stands well by itself, you may remove the wires and the poles. It may take a year or more before the supports can be removed, but eventually the tree, given the chance to move about, will be strong enough to stand without any posts.

CAMELLIA SHOW

Enter your best camellias Saturday in the Camellia Society of Kern County's 57th Annual Camellia Show at First Christian Church. Flowers should be brought to the social hall of the church, 17th and S streets, between 7 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. It's free to enter or just view the show, which will be open to the public, following judging, between 1-5 p.m. Saturday and from noon-4:40 p.m. Sunday.

Camellia blossoms or camellia arrangements based on the year's theme may be entered in the show. To enter, bring fresh, fully opened flowers with stems of at least an inch. Put the stem in water to keep the flower fresh for the trip to the church. Leave only two leaves on any flower stem.

Winners will receive ribbons and crystal pieces. There's a category for novices, so there is no need to feel shy about not having years of camellia growing experience to enter. The show is a good opportunity to learn more about camellias as well as to see the wide variety of flower forms available.

The Floral Design Section's theme is "An Olympic Challenge," and the classes are Speeding Like the Wind, A Champion, Winner's Circle, The Highest Honor and East Meets West. For a copy of the show schedule or more information call 872-2188.

BARE-ROOT SEASON

With a break in the rain a couple of weekends ago, I bought a few more bare-root rose bushes. By shopping at several different nurseries, I've found a variety of interesting roses to plant. All nurseries don't stock the same roses. I've got 14 new rose bushes, which will be blooming quite soon.

Bare-root plants are fully leafed out at nurseries now, and their roots are growing quickly, too. The bare-root season will end when the cool weather does. If you plan on growing fruit, nut or shade trees, berries, some vegetables or roses, take advantage of the soft soil and lovely plants before the weather heats up.

ROSE SOCIETY MEETING

The Kern County Rose Society will meet Monday, March 7, at the North of the River Veterans Hall, 400 W. Norris Road. Anna Smith, winner of a national design award from the American Rose Society for her Tehachapi garden, will speak on "Color in the Garden Through the Seasons."

Social time is from 6:30-7 p.m. The meeting starts at 7.

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