GARDENING BY RONELLA: Hold off on pruning landscape plants for now
by Ronella Stagner, Columnist
Aug 21, 2013 | 79 79 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It would be nice if gardeners could just sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labors at this time of year, but there are things to do and things not to do.

First, don’t do any pruning of those landscape plants now. They don’t need any exposed ends while getting ready for winter. Once cold weather gets here, about Christmas time when you need the trimmings for decoration is the time to prune.

If you continue to deadhead your blooming plants, many of them will bloom again and continue till frost. Plants such as roses, tall garden phlox, veronica and some annuals will bloom again.

Then some annuals may look bedraggled and ugly during August and they might as well be pulled up by their roots. Any of the annuals that do not have mildew can be put on your compost.

Evergreens, both broad leafed and coniferous, should be planted from now till September 15. They need a lot of water, so it’s important when resetting them, to saturate the soil and the hole where they are going. When possible, it’s a good idea to shelter them in some way from the drying summer winds.

This is a good time to plant seeds of biennials, such as foxglove. When they come up, protect them with straw or some other shelter but don’t try to move them until next spring.

You may also find many self-sown seedlings from hollyhocks, larkspur, columbine, sweet William, etc. It would probably kill them to try to set them out somewhere else in your borders and beds. By spring you can move them around. Those all make fine fillers in borders and beds so save all you can. These will all come back true to the color but you will find that the phlox will rarely come back in the color of the parent, so if you try to save those young plants, put them where you won’t mind if they revert back to the old magenta colored phlox.

The early signs of fall have always been my most least favorite time of year. There seems to me to be days when you go outside and fall is in the air, though it’s really still summer. I think this feeling about fall comes from the frustration of working so hard for the beautiful spring and summer flowers and then, suddenly it’s time to think about putting all those plants to bed for the winter.

I remember how my Ma always dreaded winter and when fall came, she often quoted, “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” She disliked watching her flowers fade and die back in fall. Also her beautiful pots of plants on the front porch had to be brought inside. I often wonder at her dread of fall but I think it was that she saw little, if any, beauty in fall. Ma loved beauty in her flowers and in her house. She spent many hours at the old quilting frame making her beautiful quilts. When I look at her quilts, a few of which I have, I marvel at how she could match colors and shades.

Another reason for Ma dreading fall was that in late summer and early fall, there often were rabid dogs roaming through the area. There were no veterinarians and dogs were not vaccinated so there were often rabid dogs passing by their farm. Sometimes they would turn up the long driveway and would either go on to a neighbor or turn up to their house.

I remember, as a child, that I knew how a mad dog looked. I still have nightmares about the one I saw on Pa’s porch fighting with Red Buck. The windows in the old house went almost to the floor and Pa was afraid that the dogs would crash through the window, so he told Ma and me to stay in the hall where there were no windows and he slipped out the door with his shotgun to try to kill the mad dog. He told Ma not to open the door unless he told her to. He never could get a clear shot at that dog and it finally left the porch. Eventually, Buck dragged himself home to our house where Daddy kept him fastened up for forty days, as per our doctor.

I remember that Ma would rush to get Pa’s birddog into the house if she saw a strange acting dog coming down the road. Is it any wonder that I had nightmares about mad dogs? Still I felt safer at their house than at my parents’ home.

There was also always the danger of a prison break at the state prison ten miles away. Our road was the first road that turned off the main road from the prison and so the people along that little road were always aware of the danger to them if there was a breakout.

Those were just two of the dangers Ma had to face alone if Pa was working in the farther fields. The neighborhood telephone system was her only window to the world.

Please feel free to call me at 270-522-3632 with questions, suggestions or comments.
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