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Huron Home and Garden
DECORATING COLUMN MOVED PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 10 August 2010 14:55
LOOKING FOR PATTI ROBERTSON'S DECORATING COLUMN? PLEASE CHECK THE HOME AND GARDENS SECTION OF THE REGULAR WEBSITE UNDER DECORATING.
 
GARDENING COLUMN MOVED PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 10 August 2010 14:53
LOOKING FOR RHEA HAMILTON'S COLUMN? PLEASE CHECK THE HOME AND GARDENS  SECTION OF THER MAIN WEBSITE UNDER GARDENING.
 
GARDENING PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 11 February 2010 09:39
By Rhea Hamilton-Seeger
Early March is a wonderful time to look after some pruning jobs around the garden.
I readily admit that I don’t jump at the chance to cut and slash at unwanted branches. My husband has probably initiated more pruning around our yard than I have. He hates getting hit in the face with low hanging branches so I have to keep an eye on him when he marches out with the loppers.
There are valuable reasons for pruning. It encourages new growth, increases fruit yield, and cutting out dead or diseased portions keeps your plants healthy. It is not as daunting a task as many believe. A good book for guidance, a sharp pair of secateurs, loppers for heavier branches and a pruning saw for even heavier branches will make the job easier.
There are three degrees of pruning. Hard pruning involves removing a large amount of new growth from all over a plant or cutting back hard on a few shoots. Existing growth is cut back by at least three-quarters or three or four buds from the base. Think roses or hydrangea. Moderate pruning involves about half the amount of the new growth being reduced by half of its length. You are pruning evenly over the entire plant. And then there is light pruning that cuts about one-quarter of any new growth by no more than a quarter of its new length. This may involve just the tips of new shoots.
If you are shaping shrubs keep in mind their natural growth habit. We had beautiful bridal veil shrubs at work. Their long graceful branches arched out and extended over a few feet of ground. They were a nuisance to anyone trying to cut the grass closer to the shrub, so someone armed with dull secateurs went out and cut the branches back to lollipop shapes. There was a lot of deadwood in the centre that should have been cleaned out at that time but this person did not have the proper tools. A year later someone with a lot more experience carefully trimmed out the dead wood and the shrubs have come back. They still need a bit of maintenance but I don’t think I want to raise the issue.
Pruning in early spring is an ideal time for shaping your favourite shrubs and young trees. One simple rule is prune summer and autumn flowering shrubs in the spring and spring blooming shrubs after they have bloomed or mid-summer. But what about evergreens and trees?
Evergreens do not often need pruning. Some near your home may need a bit of shaping or in the case of hedges a bit of thinning out of the underbranches. You want to tackle this job in late spring or wait until late summer. Box and yew shrubs/hedges can be carefully trimmed in late summer too.
The next challenge is trees. It does not matter if you get penny trees or spend a lot more bucks and get a larger version from a nursery. Trees are like children. You give them special attention, feed them only the best, take care of their injuries, guide them into adulthood. And like children, problems happen. You would think that once they hit a certain size they could  take care of themselves. Not so. There will be destructive storms, diseases, and once in a while a bit of shaping is needed. Winter is the best time for cutting back and trimming deciduous trees. We have an extremely old sour cherry tree on the west side of the house. It has been a great source of entertainment. We have watched as it has sheltered many nests of robins, supported voracious raccoons while they devoured cherries, and been tickled by not a few chipmunks. Our daughter would sit in her window-sill watching the robins, enjoying the blossoms and the cool summer breezes that slipped into her window. It has become a benchmark for true spring when it wreaths itself in white blossoms.
But age has crept up and some of its gnarly branches have crossed over and created problems and there are quite a few dead limbs that need trimming out. But a project this big is best left to a professional tree trimmer who can move among the branches without creating any more damage to the tree and effectively pare out the diseased or broken limbs.
Making the right cut is as important as the timing. Young wood heals faster than old wood. How true that is. Make a slanted cut above a bud. Make a straight cut if the buds are opposite each other on the stem. If you cut too far from the bud the stem will wither and become susceptible to disease. Cutting too close to the bud may damage the bud itself.
Always make sure your tools are sharp and clean so you do not tear at the bark. When working on trees look for a branch collar of thick tissue at the base of the branch. There are plant cells in this tissue that will help heal over the cut with callus. Cut cleanly and closely to the ring but leave it intact.
Make sure to collect up all your prunings especially diseased clippings and compost, burn or bag. After pruning give your plant a generous feeding of fertilizer or compost and set out a mulch to retain moisture. In the spring give a good watering. Summer-pruned plants require a good drink and fertilizer.
And remember – too little pruning is always better than too much.
PRUNING – MAKING THE KINDEST CUT
By Rhea Hamilton-Seeger
Early March is a wonderful time to look after some pruning jobs around the garden.
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