It's Time to ...

Heavy rains and hot weather mean more mowing and weeding, so other chores may have to be postponed.
Heavy rains and hot weather mean more mowing and weeding, so other chores may have to be postponed. (SERGII SALIVON / iStockphoto.com)
Posted: June 21, 2014

Cut your losses. By now, it's easy to tell whether woody plants (trees and shrubs) have been slow to break winter dormancy or if they're truly dead. Think of Father's Day as a good reminder of this timing. Most branches should have leafed out or at least have sprouted shoots from the base. Our multistemmed crape myrtle ( Lagerstroemia indica) broke winter dormancy only 10 days ago, leafing out at the very top of a few taller stems, and then emerging from the base of the plant. You may also discover that a woody plant has survived, but has sustained too much winter damage. Then it's up to you: Give the plant time to recover, or remove it entirely.

Embrace change. Although you have the best intentions about keeping up with gardening tasks, nature does have a way of throwing curveballs. Heavy rains and excessive heat means more mowing and weeding and less time for other jobs. Be willing to change priorities. While you may feel daunted, never be discouraged - something I often need to remind myself. If the lawn is high but the transplants you got last month really need to be planted, then postpone the mowing and start planting. The grass may grow a bit taller but those clover flowers will be a good food source for the bees. Think of gardening as working with nature, rather than fighting against it.

Bring the beauty of your garden inside. Create arrangements of flowers, foliage, and branches cut from the garden for a mix of color, texture, and form. Discover, by experimentation or by accident, how well different plants do in water. I recently pruned a low-hanging branch of Korean dogwood ( Cornus kousa) from a path and put it in a vase. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the leaves and flowers lasted several weeks in water. Always change the water at least once a week, keeping what looks fresh. Be ready to pull the faded ones and replace with newly cut stems or branches.


Patricia Schrieber is director of education

for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) ( www.phsonline.org),

and co-owner of Valentine Gardens ( www.valentine-gardens.com).

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