She’s one of Canada’s leading gardening writers — authoring 15 books and penning a gardening column for the Globe and Mail since 1990.
Writing skills aside, have you seen her work with pruning shears? That woman can trim! I don’t pretend to know as much as she does when it comes to preventing fungal infections, and never will. But I can tell you, her knowledge of a zone three garden is unsurpassed. She’s a Viking. A gardening warlord. An adept green guru.
So what I’m about to tell you is a filtered down version of her own brilliance on how to properly trim a dogwood. I’ve got two in the backyard, and I knew that they required pruning to help maintain their deep red branches.
You’ll want to only trim a third of the entire shrub, before it starts producing leaves in the spring. Ensure you’re using sharp and clean tools, and cut on an angle the desired branch.
If your tools are rusty, then you risk the chance of infection —“pestular” or otherwise. (I will officially take ownership of that word, despite it not being one. “Pestular,” similar in root to “pestilence” shares the same consequence: “destruction”).
By trimming back your dogwood, whatever the variety, then you will produce a compact and slow-growing bush that will maintain its cherry red stalk. If left to grow willy-nilly, the plant can become “leggy” and lose the vibrant colour that we cherish.
Marjorie Harris told us to get this done in the spring. But there are other jobs that your garden will benefit from if done early on.
Weeding is best done now, when the taproot of the plant has not yet sent out its armies of tendrils.
Since the plant has not yet firmly settled in, it can be deracinated with a firm tug. If left until summer, you risk further seeding and a deeper, more vigorous root system. I’ve already felt the satisfaction that accompanies hauling forth a deep root.
It borders on delicious. Remember, too, if it’s dandelions you’re yanking out, not to toss them in the compost — doing that will render the whole lot useless, since you’ll only be returning the seeds to the garden.
Now is also the right time to plant trees. If you’re eyeing a fruit tree or want to plant a weeping willow (on an acreage), then now’s the time.
It’s also an excellent time to aerate your lawn.
Through aeration, you are allowing your lawn to breathe, as oxygen is able to reach the roots. You are also enabling a good drink, (of the non-alcoholic type) when organic fertilizer or your compost tea has access to the roots. By aerating, you are loosening compact soil and breaking up the thatch.
To do this, you can rent your own machine, or maybe your neighbour wants to go halvsies with you. Certainly a lawn care technician who wants to aerate your lawn may have visited you. They’re all over our neighbourhood.
Go for it — now’s the time. But remember to check for credentials before you get just anyone to poke holes into your yard. You might ask them if they’ve heard of Marjorie Harris, to start.
Anne Boulton is an avid gardener who lives in Sudbury. Visit her blog at greenboots.ca or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Vivian Scinto