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It's taken only a few warm, sunny days and spring has sprung. Were you ready? If you haven't put seeds in the ground yet, don't worry, there's still plenty of time to sow for summer blooms — and time to clean out weeds before they all mature, to get more plants in the ground while rain is still in the forecast and before cool weather ends for good.

If you haven't come across the offerings from Select Seeds, check out their website (selectseeds.com). They specialize in rare, heirloom, fragrant and time-tested varieties, many that have been passed along to friends and down through families for generations.

You'll find a multitude of bird and bee favorites that provide nectar throughout several seasons on blooms we remember from our grandmother's garden. Many selections are hard to find today.

For gardeners with limited space, Renee's Garden has a wide range of vegetable and flower seeds available on most seed racks and online (reneesgarden.com) for container gardening. Two of my favorites are Sweetie Baby Romaine and Container Zucchini Astia.

They're geared for containers but in garden beds, the very compact zucchini plants take up much less space, are somewhat less prolific, and are as tasty as any other. For a full list of plants and those selected for containers, see the online catalog; no print version is issued.

Prize plants

Two very different resources are two of the very best places to find prize plants locally for gardens this spring.

Peacock Horticultural Nursery, 4269 Gravenstein Highway S., between Cotati and Sebastopol, specializes in unusual, hard-to-find, and interesting plants for serious and not-so-serious gardeners alike. Parking is tight along the street, but the diversity of species inside the gate makes getting there worthwhile.

Allow enough time to wander through maze-like collections of succulents, riveting colors and unusual foliage, dwarf conifers, restios, trees and perennials. Sun-loving grevilleas and cordylines are standouts this spring. Many plants have been selected for shade gardens. Visit peacockhorticulturalnursery.com for photos, a blog, and plant lists.

The second and distinctly different resource is the Jail Industries sale, scheduled twice this spring on Saturday mornings from 9 to noon on April 13 and again May 11.

Tucked away at 2254 Ordinance Road at the end of Airport Boulevard in Santa Rosa are more than a dozen shade houses filled with grasses, perennials, vines and shrubs, while rows of trees and plants fill adjacent spaces.

If you haven't bought plants there previously, be prepared for extreme bargains — most plants are $2.50/gallon. Take along cash or check (no credit cards accepted) and your own wagon or wheelbarrow for convenience.

Additional items are available seasonally. This spring, you'll find wooden planters, picnic tables and barbecue rings. For details and a plant list, visit Sonoma-county.org/jailindustries/plantsale.htm

Weeds to watch

While most garden weeds are easily recognized, a few relatively new invaders may go unnoticed this spring until they become difficult to control. If you find these, pull them out before they take over. All are easy to handle while small.

Wild geranium. Masquerading as an attractive garden annual that resembles true geranium species — not the red flower-pot variety that is actually a Pelargonium — herb Robert (Geranium robertianum) is a bothersome weed that reseeds prolifically in both sun and shade.

Initially, red-tinted stems in wide, loose rosettes and deep pink, small flowers look like a welcome self-sower. One or two could be tolerated, but pointed capsules appear after flowering, pop open, and spread seeds 20 feet or more. It doesn't take long for its weedy nature to take over.

Little bittercress. This little nuisance (Cardamine oligosperma), also called popper weed, has become widespread in the last 10 years. It appears in lawns, garden beds, pots, on rocks and other hard surfaces — wherever there is a hint of soil or organic matter to feed roots.

Alone, its delicate, ground-hugging little rosette looks harmless, but in countless numbers it becomes a tough little monster, even though it pulls out with ease. Upright stems may grow only 2 inches before producing seeds but in damp spots, rosettes are lusher and several wiry stems reach 10 inches tall.

As soon as tiny, slim pods ripen, they explode on their own or when touched and expel untold numbers of seeds across an infuriatingly wide area, resulting in a staggering population in years to come.

(Rosemary McCreary, a Sonoma County gardener, gardening teacher and author, writes the monthly Homegrown column for The Press Democrat. Write to her at P.O. Box 910, Santa Rosa, 95402; or send fax to 664-9476.)