“Don’t wait until the fourth Thursday in November to sit with family and friends to give thanks. Make every day a day of Thanksgiving!” Charmaine J. Forde. “The month of November makes me feel that life is passing more quickly. In an effort to slow it down, I try to fill the hours more meaningfully.” Henry Rollins. “In November, people are good to each other. They travel very far on a special November day just to share a meal with one another and to give thanks for their many blessings.” Cynthia Rylant. “November at its best—with a sort of delightful menace in the air.” Anne Bosworth Greene.
As Thanksgiving draws near and Christmas not far behind, holiday plans and preparations occupy our minds and our time. The days continue to get shorter (until Dec 21) as we encounter nature’s gifts of late fall into the wintery season. Many plants (deciduous) are dropping their leaves for the season and others (evergreen) continue to show growth and expansion. In the barren plants, we see a need for thinning out. And in the evergreen plants, we identify with shaping and sizing. It’s all about pruning!
Such questions as – when, where, why, how, how much etc. cross our minds. It’s that time of the year to start planning for seasonal activities in the landscape. Plan your pruning schedule and prune for life – both yours and your plants. Prune those things from your life that keep anchoring you down as you complete the necessary pruning for your plant’s health and curb appeal.
Consider the timing and plant health before beginning any pruning exercises. Delay significant pruning until after any cold weather (and we will have some) of the season passes because existing vegetative growth can serve as a buffer and protect the plant from potential cold damage. Light pruning to remove damaged and broken limbs is acceptable but delay any significant pruning until the potential for cold damage has passed. However, as storms pass through and leave their signature, this damage must be cleaned up immediately. Proper pruning is essential for heathy plants.
Prune summer-flowering woody plants in late fall or winter. The window between February 15 and March 1 is good benchmark in pruning away all dead material for winter cleanup and spring prep, pending specific local temperatures (ie. knockout roses and lantana). April 1 is a good indicator of the closure to winter weather and the seasonal benchmark for planting annuals and perennials, as well as other landscape activities. Whether you follow such precautions or proceed immediately, do so with care and caution.
Pruning is a mechanical exercise in which a part of the plant is removed for curb appeal and health or to control growth and shape. There are certain effects on the plant as a result of pruning. Let’s try to keep all effects positive. A most common negative effect that is visible as a result of improperly pruning crape myrtles is the condition we universally refer to as “crape murder.”
Short-term effects include the immediate appearance of the plant and how it responds throughout the growing season. The long-term effect is how the plant will look and respond after several seasons of new growth which result from the absence of the pruned parts.
Pruning is easily done but not so easy to do correctly. It takes patience and know-how. There are instances when pruning is formal and a time for the informal. Plants should be pruned to encourage their natural form and shape. However, lots of pruning activities are improperly performed and the end result changes the plant forever. Once a part is pruned from the plant, it cannot be re-attached. Seek professional assistance for proper advice in pruning specific plants. Think twice and cut once!
Most pruning cuts are informal and should be made individually. The end result should not readily expose the pruning cut to the viewer’s eye which should be hidden by surrounding branches. For example, many crape myrtles are severely cut back (crape murder) to encourage new growth. To some people this is an acceptable practice but it is not an appropriate pruning technique on the plant. On the other hand, selective pruning preserves intact virgin limbs which will be more attractive when pruned to natural shape and form.
In most pruning situations, never remove more than one-third of the overall height or width of the tree or shrub with limited annual pruning as a guideline. However, in some situations like over-grown foundation plants (evergreens) or knock-out roses, you can prune down to about 12-18 inches in height which would provide great stock for spring re-growth.
Proper tools and proper techniques are a must in any pruning operation. All pruning tools must be kept sharp and clean (disinfected), and used with care for the safety of the user and others. A list of such tools would include hand pruners, lopping pruners, hedge shears, hand pruning saw, pole pruning saw, and various power units including chainsaws and selective pruners.
In all pruning operations, always sterilize your tools when moving from plant to plant if diseases appear to be present. This effort will minimize the spread of such diseases. And, when making pruning cuts, be sure the cut is smooth and straight without any tears in plant tissue or bark.
There are advantages and disadvantages to pruning in every season but pruning activities take place in winter, spring, summer and fall. Which season depends on the plant characteristics and features, not as a choice of convenience and simplicity to the homeowner or landscaper. For example, crape myrtles and Little Gem magnolias (and other summer flowering plants) are pruned in late winter-spring before new growth since flowering develops on current season wood. Dogwoods and azaleas (and other early spring flowering plants) are pruned after they bloom since flower bud set this year for next spring’s color.
The reason for pruning will determine the particular limbs and branches to be removed from a tree or shrub. It is very critical to make an appropriate pruning cut and develop the correct technique in the removal of larger limbs. In pruning to remove diseased portions, the cut should be made in the healthy tissue and away from the diseased wood to minimize contamination of tools and maintain health of the plant.
The Bible is the only book that you can never finish. It is Alive! You will see new things each time you study it. As Thanksgiving approaches, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever (1 Chronicles 16:34). Remember to read the Book of Luke (24 chapters) in the Bible beginning on Dec 1 and reading a chapter a night through Dec 24. All this to better learn and understand Who and why we celebrate Christmas. CHRISTmas is about Jesus and His love and in these chapters you will read an entire account of Jesus’ life. Happy November!
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15. :Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2. “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” 2 Corinthians 9:11. “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the Word of God and prayer.” 1 Timothy 4:4-5. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.