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Henry R. asks: What experience have you had when choosing a garden hose? Mine are always kinking and never seem to last very long.

Answer: I have discovered over many years that purchasing a flimsy and inexpensive garden hose is frustrating and a waste of money. The old adage “you get what you pay for” certainly pertains to inexpensive garden hoses.

Several years ago I purchased a 75-foot commercial grade hose that was three-fourths inch thick. It too, was a mistake since it was extremely heavy and difficult to pull and move around in addition to being more hose than I needed for my garden.

On the positive side, the hose did not kink and lasted for years; I finally became so disgusted by its weight that I discarded the monster hose.

Following are tips for purchasing a garden hose:

Decide on the hose length required to easily reach all areas within your garden including your container plants.

It is easier to buy two shorter hoses and attach them together when needed. There are quick connectors for hoses that allow this task to be simple and easy.

Store the shorter hoses in attractive hose pots designed for that purpose.

Look for substantial appearing hoses that are described as “kink resistant” and “flexible”.

Unfortunately, all hoses will kink somewhat. Don’t believe any claims that a hose is absolutely non-kinking.

One of my recent purchases is also my favorite — a lime green hose that is lightweight, rolls up easily and is five-eights inch in diameter. It is called ID Premium Garden Hose 1113 Flexzilla by Legacy. Yes, it will kink somewhat but it is not an irritant and it’s easy to handle. Another good brand is Gilmour Flexogen. Our local Friedman’s Home Improvement stores have a good selection.

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Julie R. asks: Will piñon pines grow in our area? We are recent transplants from the high desert of New Mexico and loved our piñon pines.

Answer: Piñon pine (also spelled Pinyon), designated as the state tree of New Mexico, is known botanically as Pinon edulis. It is native to the mountains of California deserts and southwest states such as New Mexico. It is best adapted to Sunset garden zones 1-11 and 14-21.

Will it thrive here? That will depend on its location. It needs to be in an area with full to part sun and in rocky soil that has good drainage. It needs an occasional deep watering to emulate what it receives in the high desert piñon forest in New Mexico. Pinon edulis can grow 10 to 20 feet in height and 16 to 18 feet in width and is considered slow growing.

As you know, the pine cones produce edible nuts that are sold in markets. The nuts were a major food source for the native Americans in that area. I don’t know if it is available in our local nurseries, but with a little research it can be special ordered.

If you are up to the challenge, try giving the tree the environment it requires and you will probably be successful. Using it in rock gardens and in large containers are design possibilities for the urban garden.

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Robby shares this tip: Years ago the late Dean Linscott from Santa Rosa offered me a tip on fertilizing deep-rooted plants such as clematis and roses. I thought I would share his tip to your readers since my plants responded well to this regimen.

Cut one-foot-long lengths out of 1¾-inch diameter PVC pipe and insert them into the soil near each plant’s root zone. Pour a pint of liquid fertilizer (such as fish emulsion) into the tubes every few weeks during the growing season.

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Charles asks: What caused my favorite rose, Ives Piaget, to start developing magenta-red blooms. The blooms occurred, it seemed overnight, on vigorous long shoots that were totally out of character for the plant’s usual growth habit.

Answer: Your favorite rose was grafted onto a vigorous ‘Huey’ rootstock and produced suckers. Suckers from rose rootstocks are oftentimes the result of stress such as water-logged soils, black spot, mildew or physical damage. Sometimes it occurs for no apparent reason.

What to do? Cut out the suckers beneath the surface close to the rootstock. If you don’t do this, the vigorous suckers will overcome the desirable rose as they compete for nutrients, water and light, resulting in subpar roses that bear no resemblance to "Ives Piaget.”

Dana Lozano and Gwen Kilchherr are garden consultants. Send your gardening questions to The Garden Doctors, at pdgardendoctor@gmail.com. The Garden Doctors can answer questions only through their column, which appears twice a month in the newspaper and online at pressdemocrat.com.

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