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
The Varina Ruritan Club hosted the winners of its 2014 Environmental Essay contest at its monthly meeting March 11 in Varina.
The contest, in its eighth year, was for the first time open to students in grades 3-5 at Varina Elementary School. (It previously was open to Sandston Elementary School students.)
The meeting included the winners, parents of the winners, Varina Elementary principal Mark Tyler and several teachers who were in charge of the contest at the school. > Read more.
For the fifth consecutive year, St. Christopher’s and Benedictine will play a varsity baseball game at Glen Allen's RF&P Park as part of a fundraising effort for the River City Buddy Ball program.
The game will take place Saturday, April 12, at 7 p.m., and the teams hope to raise $3,000 through donations, raffles and other efforts. Admission to the game is free, but fans who attend are asked to donate funds for the Glen Allen Youth Athletic Association's Buddy Ball program, which enables disabled children and teens to play baseball. > Read more.
The Henrico Division of Recreation and Parks will dedicate the Highland Springs Little League Majors Field in memory and honor of Rev. Robert “Bob” L. Spears, Jr., on April 12 with a ceremony at the field at 8 a.m.
Spears served the league as a coach and volunteer for 30 years and was praised as a pioneer for equality. His “Finish strong” motto embodied ethical perseverance on the field and in life. > Read more.
Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.
‘Muppets Most Wanted’ worthy of its franchise
Do Muppets sleep? It’s hard to say.
They don’t really eat (or breathe, as far as anyone can tell). And only occasionally do they have visible, functioning legs.
As far as anyone knows, sleeping might be off the table. And that makes it very hard to accuse the Muppets of sleepwalking through their latest feature, Muppets Most Wanted – even if that’s exactly what’s going on.
Jim Henson’s beloved creations were back in a big way after 2011’s The Muppets, with fame and fortune and even an Oscar, a first for the group (“Rainbow Connection” was nominated, yet somehow failed to collect at the ’79 ceremony). > Read more.
There’s no excuse for kids and families to not get out of the house this weekend! The Armour House and Gardens has an “Egg-celent Egg-venture” planned and Reynolds Community College will host the Reynolds Family Palooza. If you’re looking to give back to your community, Dorey Park will host Walk Like MADD and coordinators2inc will present the annual Kids Walk for Kids. And a special event for children with special needs will be on Sunday – the Caring Bunny will be at Virginia Center Commons. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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