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January & February 2012 Cuttings

“Cuttings” is your source for garden updates and horticultural tips from the Reeves-Reed Arboretum’s horticulture staff. Check back monthly to find out what’s blooming at the Arboretum, get the inside scoop on upcoming events, and learn some timely tips you can put to use in your own garden.

In the Gardens – Snowstorm Recovery

Here at Reeves-Reed Arboretum, we’re still working hard to recover from massive damage caused by October’s unseasonably early snowstorm. Due to the tireless efforts of staff, volunteers, and our arborist crews, the Arboretum’s core areas are now open to the public once more. We invite you to visit and enjoy the Formal Gardens, Wesson Nature Grove, Wildlife Habitat, and Wildflower Trail – and of course, please stop by the Wisner House, Education Center, and Louise Muncie Roehm Greenhouse during open hours as well!

We still have a great deal of work to do in the woods before we’ll be able to reopen the Woodland Trails, and when you visit the Arboretum you’ll notice that the trails are still closed to the public. Over the course of the winter, we’ll be working to remove dangerous tree limbs hanging over the footpaths; we’ll also be spending quite a bit of time removing the remains of fallen trees whose trunks are blocking trail access.

Fallen tree limbs stacked by the entrance to the Woodland Trails – we get a little bit further in our clean-up efforts every day!

Winter Gardening Tips – Prime Time for Pruning

The months of January and February are an ideal time to prune many woody plants which go dormant in the winter. Why prune when plants are dormant? Well, there are a few good reasons. First, just as many woody plants are dormant over the winter, so are many of the diseases and insect pests that attack them. Pruning in winter decreases the chances of disease – plus, when vigorous growth begins in the spring, the plant will be able to quickly seal any wounds, thereby thwarting pests and pathogens for good. Many plants in the rose family, such as apple trees and hawthorns, are particularly vulnerable to fireblight and other diseases if pruned during the growing season, and are good examples of plants that make perfect candidates for winter pruning.

Another reason to prune in winter is that it avoids problems caused by weak new growth, which often results from summer or autumn pruning. When plants are pruned in summer or fall, they respond by producing tender juvenile growth, which is then easily injured by the onset of cold weather. Not only does this lead to unsightly dieback, it can also weaken the plant as a whole, depleting energy the tree or shrub needs to make it through the winter and emerge from dormancy the following spring.

And finally, pruning in winter makes the job easier for you, the gardener! Without all those leaves in the way, you’ll have a much easier time seeing what you’re doing – and when you have a lot of pruning to do, this is very helpful indeed.

A new pruning cut on the Arboretum’s Franklinia alatamaha, or Franklin Tree.

Upcoming Events

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service – Monday, January 16 – 9:00 am to 12:00 pm

Thanks to the efforts of our community volunteers, we've made great progress in cleaning up from this past October's early snowstorm - but we still have a long way to go in our storm recovery efforts, and we need YOUR help to get the Arboretum looking great again!  We welcome volunteers ages 12 and up for a morning of active, outdoor work at the Arboretum.  Gardening tools will be provided - please dress for winter weather.  For more information or to register, contact Jackie Kondel at (908) 273-8787 ext. 1515 or j.kondel@reeves-reedarboretum.org.

Winter Pruning Workshop – Thursday, February 16 – 1:00 to 2:30 pm (Cost: Members free / Non-members $10)

If you’re looking for more winter pruning tips, as well as an opportunity to practice your pruning skills, register for our upcoming Winter Pruning Workshop on Thursday, February 16! In this hands-on session, you’ll learn about different types of pruning, how to select the best tool for the job, and how to prune with plant health and garden aesthetics in mind. For more information or to register, contact Joyce Zemsky at (908) 273-8787 ext. 1414 or j.zemsky@reeves-reedarboretum.org.