Gardener's Grapevine 2011.04.27

Written by David Green.

By Jo Erbskorn

Spring brings to mind so many things—sunshine after the gloomy winter, renewed life in our greening plants, and elevated moods due to a feeling of a fresh start. Spring gives every gardener the undeniable urge to play in the dirt.

While starting out at the beginning of the growing season, remember not everything wakes up at the same time. Plants are happy in certain zones, and until temperatures warm up for that zone our plants stay dormant. That is why some trees leaf out earlier than others. My husband thinks it’s so we constantly have something new to clean up.

There are many plants and bushes that mistakenly get ripped out for not budding; there stands this eyesore all dry and ugly. One of these is the butterfly bush. It may have a few small areas were some buds are peeking out and some just look dead. For the most part it is asleep and needs time and a sign that says, “Leave me alone.” Another plant is the hydrangea bush.

At the church we have two very lovely hydrangea bushes that are about three years old. The first year they bloomed a bit, but not a big show. This is normal as they use their old dry stems like a spine to hold up the huge blooms. It is very easy to want to trim these old stems off as they are unsightly long after everything else is waking up. But what was once the plant’s beauty will this season be its strength for a bigger show.

Climbing roses fall into this category of late sleepers. Some climbers leave their long arms looking awful, long after other plants have leaves. So if you are not a master rose gardener, you stand there having a mental fight with yourself—is it dead or is it alive?

To prune or not to prune, that is a gardener’s dilemma. I learned the hard way to give them time. I asked someone I trusted why my climbers did not bloom like they were supposed to and that person said, “Oh, cut off those long stems every fall. They zap all the plant’s strength.” So inexperienced me did as I was told. Wrong! I got excellent stem and foliage growth and no blooms at all.

At a Garden Club district meeting, a master rose gardener spoke and explained why roses should be left alone until late May or even June. I followed that advice, and now my climbers are beautiful.

My point is, clean up but know your plants and don’t be quick to write them off as dead.

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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