10 Jan 2014

Naked in the Bushes

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Finally, we have the chance to see the shape and condition of our trees and shrubs now that the winter has rendered them devoid of their summer clothes.  Of course, I am talking about the deciduous ones that look completely different in this season and we can take advantage of the nudity for reshaping, inspecting for disease or pests, or just enjoying the light it shows through the silhouetted forms.  I have written in previous blogs about the wheres and whys of some pruning.  However, today I would like to concentrate on the health aspects of pruning principles for this time of year.

It is much easier to spot dead dying or diseased wood now and careful inspecting along with a fair bit of standing back and looking is in order.  Disease on woody shrubs can be hidden in the summer as can dead or dying branches.  Various fungi will attack a plant that is already beginning to deteriorate and most of the fungi can be controlled with a simple pruning cut,other  fungi can be more difficult to control and these types often indicate something else that is causing the plant to die back.

Coral spot, an orange dotted fungus that grows on tissue can be cut out but often returns indicating further issue within the plant, so inspection for creatures that maybe detrimental is advised.  In the pruning of plants the three “d’s” dead, diseased, and dying are the first choices of cuts to be made, but while you are up close and personal you can also check for the presence of creatures by looking in the axles of the branches around the buds or in and around the bark.  The creatures will be in  varying states now and could be in the form of a cocoon, egg sac, or maybe even retreated into a borehole to winter.  Being vigilant is necessary to spot these invaders and now that everything you ever wanted to know is online you can search for what to looking for.  If you are unsure about dead or dying woody growth scratch a little bark off with your thumbnail, if the tissue inside is a healthy greeny white it is living; if it is creamy yellow it is usually deteriorating; and brown usually fully died back.  Always prune below the dead wood and close to the tip of the nearest healthy node.

Sometimes in the act of reshaping a shrub or tree there will be sacrifices made in the next years flower or fruit production, and that depends upon whether or not the plant bears its flowers on new or previous years growth.  A general, but not always accurate, rule is that flowers that appear in spring or early summer are from last years growth and flowers that appear after June are generally borne on new growth.

Best wishes for your new year,

DD

Erin landscapes will be conducting pruning winter shrub and fruit workshops during the late winter in the new year and will be taking registration via our website.  Watch out for our notifications in upcoming weeks!

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