November, 2005
Regional Report

Web Finds

Pruning Brambles
Brambles -- meaning berries such as raspberries and blackberries -- can be pruned in late fall (once they go dormant) to remove the older canes that have already fruited. If you are growing a trailing type, you will also want to mulch over the trailing canes on the ground for the winter. This Pruning Raspberries, Blackberries, and Gooseberries site from the University of Missouri Extension is one of the most succinct yet clear guides I have found for pruning and training these plants. The simple before-and-after illustrations are really helpful.

Favorite or New Plant

European Larch
European larch (Larix decidua) is an interesting tree. It's a conifer in the pine family, and during the growing season it looks pretty much like any other needled evergreen. But come fall, it colors up in a nice rich yellow and then, since it is deciduous, it drops its needles. Whoa! I know more than one unsuspecting gardener who has been a bit surprised to see this happen.

This tree is native to the Alps and hardy to zones 2 through 6. It does well in a moist yet well-drained or gravelly soil -- not surprising since that would be akin to an alpine scree. Also not surprising (since it's native to a cold climate), it does not like hot, humid summer weather. It is not very well suited to the southern part of the mid-Atlantic region, although I have seen a few of these trees here and there from south central PA into the Washington, D.C., area where summers are notoriously muggy, hot, and humid. If you are in a cooler summer area where white birches thrive (in the mountains or north of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, as a rule of thumb), this might be a tree to consider adding to your landscape if you have space for it. This is a large tree, surpassing 60 feet tall and typically 25 feet across, and taking on an irregular shape as it ages. Consider too the golden larch (Pseudolarix amabilis), which is somewhat similar but much more heat tolerant.

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