Archived Story

Gardening work is year-round endeavor [UPDATED]

Published 5:56am Monday, January 7, 2013 Updated 8:11am Monday, January 7, 2013

If you hear grumbling, it is probably Bunkey as he dons his snowmobile suit, boots, and heads outside with his pruners and saw.

Why? Winter is the perfect time to prune or thin your trees and shrubs, and he has quite a few of both that have been long ignored.

There are a few shrubs that should be cut to ground level every winter. Start with two hydrangeas, the smooth, (arborescens) and the re-blooming big leaf hydrangea (macrophilla).

You did keep the labels didn’t you? A good tip, when you get a new tree or shrub, put the label in a file or a cookbook with plastic leaves, meant to hold your own recipes.

That way, you will not only know the Latin name of your particular plant, you will also know how large it gets and any special care it may need. The other plant that needs cutting down now is Russian sage.

There are five more shrubs that need drastic measures but not every year, only when they get too big or shabby.

Then you need to whack them to the ground. These are: bush honeysuckle, Ural false spirea, snowberry, black chokeberry and potenilla.

Some shrubs and trees just need a little grooming, that is removing broken, dead or branches that ruin the shape of the tree.

These are: apples, conifers, winged euonymus, star magnolia, wayfaring viburnum and the rhododendrons and azaleas.

The next category is shrubs that just need the older stems cut out periodically. Most people know their common lilac can get so tall that it blooms stepladder height on bare legs.

Two others that need the same treatment are the mockorange and ninebarks.

When you have finished your pruning, do shovel the snow back around the shrub or tree for winter protection. If you have had chewing bark critters, do put a barrier around the plant before you recover it with snow.

Voles, rabbits and deer can totally destroy a favorite shrub or tree in one winter.

Bunkey had just gotten into the house and was removing the layers when Petunia reminded him that he had put off sharpening the lawn mower blades when he put the mower away last fall. He better do it now as long as he is already dressed for the weather.

There are chores every season for gardeners.


Bev Johnson is a master gardener for Otter Tail County.

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