A GROWING CONCERN: Trim the trees to deck the halls

NOVEMBER IS HERE! Winter is around the corner!

Last week, we discussed sowing your grass seed, as well as the virtues of planting now, today, tomorrow or the next few weeks, specifically because of the weather and the onset of plant dormancy.

Dormancy comes into play again today, because evergreen and coniferous trees and bushes on the Peninsula prefer to be pruned in November and December.

Most of us own evergreen plants. Or we know friends and neighbors, businesses, churches and others who have evergreen conifers and holly plants.

Great. Nothing like helping a friend, neighbor, coworker or the boss — go out and help them prune away!

Pruning now is not only beneficial for your evergreens, it also produces a valuable byproduct: the clippings. It is these tips and thinned-out branches that we covet now because they are the base material for a multitude of holiday displays and fine winter gardening.

As you plant your new botanical purchases now, when the climatic conditions are ideal, mulch is desired, and pine bows and evergreen tips are a fabulous decorative top-dressing.

In fact, a multi-crisscross placement of evergreen prunings should be placed all around your flowering perennials, among your roses and over all bare-ground bed areas.

A perfect way to keep your spring bulbs from emerging too early and suffering frost damage is to mulch the ground with mixed evergreen boughs from your pruning work.

If you are very creative, think of it as a quaint floral display.

Using various colors and varieties, stick branches into the ground and add holly branches, dogwood stems, lights, gourds and ornamental grass. It can be an incredible fall/winter work of art.

This is one of my favorite tricks of the trade, because it mulches over plants, bare ground and bulb beds, and makes new containers, pots and baskets look marvelous.

Our weather is such that evergreens and decorative branches (think white birch stems) will last well from this November until next March, and the colors and textures of evergreens are very appealing.

Then, for Thanksgiving, if you add pumpkins, gourds, corn stalks, fall mums, Indian corn, hay bales and colored leaves, you have a quintessential Better Homes and Gardens ornamental masterpiece.

Great gets even better as Thanksgiving gives way to December.

Out go the gourds, hay and corn stalks, an in comes colored lights, variegated holly, mistletoe, decorative balls and bells, ribbon and bows for the perfect Norman Rockwell front door scene.

These creative artistic holiday displays are one reason why gardening is so darn fun.

Start an inventory of your overgrown evergreens, as well as that of your friends, businesses and elderly folks down the street.

Be a hero and volunteer to help clean up and prune out overgrown driveways, sidewalks and window areas.

Think of trading your yellow tips for someone’s blue, or your Cypress for another’s fir or spruce.

The more textures, colors, types and individual characteristics of evergreens you have, the more spectacular and visually stimulating the arrangement will be, and the greater fun you will have creating the display.

Also, you never can have enough! Really. I have been paid to do this kind of work for more than 40 years, and I never have enough clippings. And do not forget: This is now the ideal and perfect time to prune your evergreens.

But be aware that nothing can so permanently damage your evergreens and conifers as incorrect pruning. Got that?

Nothing can destroy your evergreens more completely than incorrect pruning!

With that in mind, my next article will feature the two types of pruning — thinning and heading cuts — and explain the differences, inherent advantages and disadvantages of each in order to better prepare you for pruning your evergreens.

And … stay well all!


Andrew May is a freelance writer and ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email news@peninsuladailynews.com (subject line: Andrew May).

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