Fruit Tree Pruning and Spring Bulbs


 It isn’t too late to prune fruit trees, if they haven’t started new growth, and even if they have, pruning can be done to remove any diseased or unwanted wood. Flowering shrubs are best if left to bloom, to get the optimum enjoyment from them, and then prune. Nearly all flowering shrubs are not fussy about whether they are pruned or not. It is mostly a matter of keeping them in the desired size and shape. Those of you who visited my garden last summer may recall that the large bed of mostly rhododendrons below the house is becoming overgrown. I am not certain if I want to do a heavy pruning of all those plants, or if it would be better to remove about a fourth or more. There are probably close to a hundred or more plants, and when the garden was young it was very attractive. Now it is suffering from the overcrowding, there are less blooms on many plants, and in fact it is hard to get around to enjoy. In my sometimes spontaneous way of puzzling things out, one of these days I will attack and probably do a combination of pruning hard, removing some, and perhaps moving some of the smaller ones elsewhere.


 Spring bulbs tend to multiply over the years to the point that eventually they become crowded and don’t all bloom. The best time to dig and separate is,  of course, after the foliage has died back in late spring or early summer.  In well grown older beds, bulbs will be very crowded and even at different levels, some on top of others. When digging, invariably some will be damaged by the shovel, and you will realize you have so many it really doesn’t matter.  I usually dig out the entire bed, and then replant, leaving an inch or two each way between the bulbs. New plantings can be made with surplus bulbs, or they can be given to friends. But now is the time to make a mental note or even a map of where they need to be dug, and plans made as to what to do with the extras, if there is no more room in the garden. One nice thing about daffodils is they are not particular as to where they are planted. Naturally they do best in sunny locations, but do almost as well in partial shade. The English bells are so prolific that every year I pull and discard many after the foliage is dead, and still they return the following year. Muscari, grape hyacinths, are nearly as prolific, but tend to be less invasive as the English bells, so they are mostly left to do as nature intended.  Remember, it is your garden, and anything you care to do is fine, as long as it pleases you.

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December 2022
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