Warm Winter Days Work

February 3rd, 2011

Some Pruning tools that can be used to maintai...

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It’s that time of year again here in Tennessee! The time when Mother Nature gives us a little glimpse of spring in amidst the snow and freezing temps. I always try to take full advantage of these sunny days, as they are a nice reprieve from Jack Frost’s wintry mix. Taking care of any forgotten pruning and pulling up of any annuals that got missed the first time are two easy ways to quickly transform a winter backyard into a primed canvas ready for spring.

Pruning my Knockout Roses is at the top of my priority list. One of the best things about these beautiful flowering shrubs is how easy they are to care for. Knowing when and how to prune them will reward you with vigorous growth and gorgeous blooms from April to as late as November (here in zone 7). If your Knockouts are still in their first year after planting, there probably isn’t any need to heavily prune, but only to clip out any damaged or touching branches and then give them a little shape to guide them through this year’s new growth. Once they reach their mature height, in about 3 or 4 years, it is easy enough to shear them heavily in early spring for all new season growth.

Starting your pruning session with a well oiled and freshly sharpened pair of pruning shears makes it much easier on your hands as well as makes clean cuts on the plants. Start by cutting away any deadwood followed by the offshoot canes growing out from the base. When making a cut, look for an outward facing bud and cut just above it at a 45-degree angle to encourage growth and to not end up with dead stumps. Now as you begin to shape the rose shrub, keep in mind that since Knockout Roses are vigorous growers, trim it to approximately 18 to 24 inches below the desired height. Keeping your trimmings in a wheelbarrow or on a tarp as you prune these thorny shrubs will help make for easy disposal and if you’re like me, you like walking bare foot in the garden in warmer weather, so you’ll be glad you were careful.

After pruning and removing forgotten annuals, I like to give my hands a little rest and take a walk around my garden to plan out my next move. I keep a little notebook handy for jotting down my plant wish list and areas where I see more height is needed. Any required repairs to the garden are noted as well. As I look around my garden, I take in the late winter scenery.  It’s the dormant period that gives the renewing of spring. Just like in life, our rest or sleep period allows our bodies to regenerate.

Now, I refill my bird feeders, give my patio a quick sweep and reward myself with a nice cup of tea. Job well done!

Cydney Langford, guest blogger

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