Many of us are inspired by botanists who continue developing more desert-adaptable plants that will provide our gardens with a fresh new look. This is the season when I need to restrain myself from purchasing more than I have time to plant.


But along with those trips to our local nurseries, it's prudent to keep in mind that it's also the season that requires some serious spring clean-up. In my yard, this means removing frost-bitten Gazanias, pulling weeds before the wind scatters their seeds, and hula-hoeing the puncture weeds before the flowers turn to dry thumbtack-like nutlets. Trees, vines and rose bushes need pruning to grow into disciplined form. But clearing out the twisted thickets of English Heather presents


my biggest challenge. Their perfuse burst of colorful blooms delighted me last spring but now the dried stems are matted hiding places for poisonous snakes that are also enjoying the return of spring.


Last year, I deferred garden clean-up to summer. This meant I was sweating in a hurried effort to clear out combustible foliage before the amateur pyrotechnicians in our neighborhood ignited their clandestine July 4 fireworks. This year, it's more urgent than ever to clear organic matter before the dry season. The fire department is operating with bare bones staffing and I wouldn't want to present them with any more challenges that might keep them from meeting the federal standards calling for first responders to arrive on scene in less than five minutes 90 percent of the time.


But disposing of green waste is challenging since the city gave Advance Disposal Company permission to change the terms of their collection pick-up. Advance advises they provide four free pick-ups per year of bundled or bagged green waste for fall or spring clean-ups. And the city website informs that we may place green waste into the 45-pound beige wheelers if it's separated into plastic bags. I've seen inmates in orange jumpsuits effectively placing freeway clean-up into large bags. But, either the heavy-duty plastic lawn bags I've purchased are not as thick as the government provides to the inmates, or the freeways are not landscaped with the same plants as I have in my desert garden. For try as I may, those nasty rigid English Heather stems and branches of all descriptions won't go into plastic bags without resistance and poking holes to escape.


It appears the landfill will receive a lot more plastic. And I'm not happy about becoming a bag lady. I miss the green trash wheeler I previously used for yard waste. A letter from Advance tells me I can still use the green wheeler but it's no


longer offered for free. It's also not collected separately. This means organic waste that previously was loosely packed into the green wheelers and kept separate for pick-up must be prepackaged by the residents. So, separation that was once automated is now my task and the task of all of us in Hesperia who do their own gardening. The additional cost of large heavy duty plastic bags for yard waste becomes another cost at the same time the waste pick-up fees are increased.


The new fees of $23.65 per month are based on what is called a "basic program". That rate provides residents two beige wheelers with an optional charge of $3 per month for each additional wheeler. Hopefully people will remember that the winds will disburse their trash if they overfill their containers. Higher fees are not onerous except that the new rates take away the discounts for seniors and low income families. The cost reduction to seniors and low income families who qualify is permitted only if they only use one wheeler. While many seniors choose restaurant discounts with smaller portions, it makes as much sense to assume that all seniors or low income residents would only use one wheeler for trash as it does to have all of us try to stuff dead branches into a plastic bag.


Shopping for new plants this spring will take this into account. Perhaps purchasing plants from Michaels instead of the nurseries might be the best solution for my trash woes, assuming of course they're flame retardant.