UNITED STATES—Christmas trees and associated items are no imposition for nurseries. They are seasonal while not much else is appealing to a retail market. They occupy retail area that summer and autumn commodities relinquished earlier. Then, they relinquish their same space as bareroot stock becomes seasonable. The chronology is very coincidentally very efficient.

Bareroot season is not actually contingent on the end of Christmas tree season. It begins with winter dormancy of bareroot stock. This dormancy merely and fortuitously coincides with Christmas. It is as effective as anesthesia for surgery. Basically, dormant stock goes to sleep on a farm, and awakens in a new home garden. Timing of the process is critical.

Bareroot stock initially grows in the ground rather than within nursery cans. Separation of its roots from the soil they grew is harmless during dormancy. Both roots and stems need simultaneous pruning. Then, stock is ready for transport without soil. Some gets packing of moist sawdust in plastic bags. Most awaits resale from bins of moist sand at nurseries.

Canned stock is more expensive and more cumbersome.

Bareroot stock has several advantages to more familiar canned nursery stock. It is much less expensive. It is also much less cumbersome. So, not only are more items affordable, but also, more fit into a car at the nursery. Their relatively small roots systems are easy to install. More importantly, without binding, their new roots disperse much more efficiently.

Deciduous fruit trees are the most popular bareroot stock. This includes stone fruits such as apricot, cherry, plum, prune, peach and nectarine. Also, it includes pomme fruits such as apple, pear and quince. Roses and cane berries are likely the second most popular of bareroot stock. Persimmon, pomegranate, fig, mulberry, and nut trees are also available.

Some of the more unusual bareroot stock is available only from online catalogues. More variety seems to become available locally though. Elderberry has only been available in California for the past several years. Currant and gooseberry are variably available here. Artichoke, asparagus, rhubarb and strawberry are perennials that are available bareroot. Cultivars of blueberry and grapevines are available.

Highlight: Heath

Heaths, which are several species of Erica, derive their name from their natural habitats. They are endemic to shrublands of acidic and seasonally dry soil of inferior quality. Such ecosystems, or heaths, do not sustain many big trees or shrubbery. Species from heaths should be resilient to dry chaparral summers. However, they dislike locally alkaline soils.

This is unfortunately why heaths are quite rare within gardens here. They are popular as blooming potted plants for winter, but become scarce afterward. Within planters of potting media, they may grow and bloom for many years. In the ground though, they are likely to languish without acidifying amendment. They prefer the company of coniferous species.

Heath blooms for winter or very early spring. Heather is a similar relation, but blooms for summer or autumn. Floral color ranges from white to pink to rustic purplish pink. Flowers are dinky but abundant. Comparably dinky evergreen leaves are like soft juniper scales. Almost all available heaths grow less than five feet high. Most grow less than a foot high.

Tony Tomeo can be contacted at tonytomeo.com.