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.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • 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.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.

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