In the garden

The importance of pruning
Pruning is an important part of maintaining woody plants such as trees and shrubs in your yard, and now is a good time to prune all but the early spring bloomers like azaleas, camellias and forsythia.

“You don’t want to prune off the flower buds,” said Henrico Extension Agent Karen Carter. “You wouldn’t be hurting the plant, but you would be reducing the floral display.”

Many people dread pruning, approaching it as a distasteful chore that they are unsure how to do properly. But effective pruning can pay big benefits in terms of plant health and appearance, and sometimes pruning is necessary either to control plant size or to remove safety hazards.

“Pruning doesn’t have to be complicated,” said Carter. “You just have to keep a few basic principles in mind.”

“First, choose the right plant for the right place,” she said.

“Second, do corrective pruning to take care of the 3 Ds – diseased, damaged or dead plant material.” Corrective pruning also includes removing rubbing and crossing branches and cutting back growth that is weak or spindly to encourage vigor.

The third principle: prune selectively to thin rather than top or head back plants. “It’s often easier and quicker to uniformly take a little off the top,” said Carter, “but in the long-run non-selective pruning can create more problems than it solves.”

Carter added that there can be “perfectly fine” reasons for shearing hedges and other shrubs but stressed that periodic selective pruning improves the long-term health of the plant and helps avoid the shell effect – leaves on the outside of a hedge with only bare branches on the inside.

“Keeping those basics in mind will get you a long way,” said Carter. “Probably 80%.”

“The other thing you need to consider is renewal pruning which involves taking out old stems from aggressive growers such as forsythias or spireas to improve blooming,” added Carter.

The Virginia Extension Service has several good publications online that Carter says are worth reading before starting the work, plus she recommends two others: “Basic Principles of Pruning Woody Plants” at http://www.caes.uga.edu/publications/ and “Pruning Woody Landscape Plants” at http://umaine.edu/publications/2169e.

You can also call the Henrico Master Gardener Helpline at 501-5160.

It’s also helpful to research the needs and habits of specific plants.

Choosing the proper tools for the size wood you’re attempting to cut is also important. Hand pruners with a by-pass action that cuts rather than crushes stems are recommended for wood that is less than 0.5-inch thick. Lopping shears are good up to 1.5 inches, and a pruning saw – which has different teeth from a carpentry saw – can be used for larger stems.

“Leave anything you can’t cut with a pruning saw to the professionals,” said Carter, “unless, of course, you are a
professional!”
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Community

RIR’s Christmas tree lighting rescheduled for Dec. 12


Richmond International Raceway's 13th annual Community Christmas tree lighting has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 12, at 6 p.m., due to inclement weather expected on the original date.

Entertainment Dec. 12 will be provided by the Laburnum Elementary School choir and the Henrico High School Mighty Marching Warriors band. Tree decorations crafted by students from Laburnum Elementary School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School will be on display. Hot chocolate and cookies will be supplied by the Henrico High School football boosters. > Read more.

project:HOMES’ ‘Renew Crew’ helps Henrico citizen


The project:HOMES "Renew Crew" (above) recently assisted an elderly member of the Laurel Presbyterian Church in Henrico by clearing brush, trimming hedges and raking leaves in her yard.

The Renew Crew serves low-income, disabled and elderly homeowners in need of small-scale home repairs such as porch, railing and step repairs, exterior painting, clearing overgrown yards, tearing down outbuildings, wheelchair ramps and other critical repairs and accessibility modifications. > Read more.
Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


The past couple of days haven’t felt like it, but it’s finally December and this weekend is packed with holiday events. Kicking the weekend off is Glorious Christmas Nights’ production of “Finding Christmas” at West End Assembly of God. Gayton Baptist Church’s annual Jazz Nativity starts tonight. Another annual favorite is tomorrow – the tree lighting at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen. In search of Christmas concerts? The Virginians Barbershop Chorus will present its annual Christmas Show tomorrow at the Collegiate School and the Richmond Choral Society will perform Sunday at Trinity Lutheran Church. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

 

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Virginia Commonwealth Bank, 901 North Parham Rd., will host a free networking meeting from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., featuring free breakfast. The event is open to the public. RSVP by contacting Brad Kilpatrick at (804) 518-2700 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Full text

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