Middle South

December, 2010
Regional Report

Find Groovy Garden Gifts

Though holiday shopping is thankfully behind us, it's never too early to start planning for birthdays and the many gift-giving occasions in the coming year. Winter gardening events, such as symposiums and flower shows, are great places to find unique gifts for friends. Among the best are gently used books, especially out-of-print classics that are a treasure to anyone.

Prune Dead Wood

Simply put, it is always the right time to prune away dead branches. You don't need to worry if the plant is entering dormancy, if its sap is rising, or if it blooms on old or new wood. A dead branch is nothing but trouble, attracting both insects and disease, so remove it at the earliest opportunity.

Start Wish List

As you peruse gardening magazines and revisit some of your favorite books this winter, why not make a wish list of plants you would like to add to the garden? Make note of botanical and cultivar names, expected bloom time or other ornamental characteristics that catch your attention, and list two or more locations where the plant might work best in the garden. Come spring, you'll have a headstart towards selecting new plants for problematic areas.

Seek Educational Opportunities

Most arboretums, public gardens, and gardening groups plan their biggest and best educational events for winter or early spring when gardeners have free time and are eager for the growing season to begin. So be on the lookout in gardening magazines and regional newspapers for upcoming lecture series, symposiums and flower shows. Or better yet, be proactive in your search by checking the Web sites of likely candidates, as many of these events will offer a discount price for early bird ticket sales.

Take Evergreen Cuttings

You can continue propagation efforts throughout the winter by gathering hardwood cuttings of evergreens, such as boxwood, camellia, holly and juniper. Take cuttings when the temperature is above freezing, and preferably in the morning when the plant is most hydrated. Remove any flowers or flower buds, as well as all but two to four leaves. Then, dip the cutting in a rooting hormone, stick it in a moist potting medium, and place it in a cool greenhouse or cold frame.

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