To paraphrase the real estate field, the three most important things to consider in creating a successful garden are soil, soil and soil. And now is the time to prepare your beds for spring planting. This means adding compost and other soil amendments to your open beds. The goal isn't simply to add nutrition to the soil, a key component in itself, but to provide loose soil for maximum drainage and aeration. There's a new product on the market I can recommend -- Malibu Compost. Farmed used biodynamic principles, it's an especially nutritious compost that also has the benefit of feeding beneficial worms in the soil, which are the most effective means of providing loose and aerated soil. We carry it at Grand Lake Ace nursery in Oakland but I'm sure others will have it as well.
If you have a perennial bed that can't be dug up, you can top dress with a variety of soil amendments. Rain and watering will gradually carry the nutrients into the soil. And don't forget to fertilize your garden throughout the year, especially plants that produce fruit or vegetables, as they are heavy feeders.
For those of us with camellias in our gardens, this is a rewarding time of year. I'm especially enjoying my C. Black Magic with its blood red blooms and a C. reticulata hybrid Frank Hauser. It showcases wavy, incredibly rich rose-pink flowers.