At our 1st meeting of 2018, held Monday evening, March 19th, we were treated to an entertaining and very informative presentation by horticluturalist and member Dave Adams on the secret life of plants.
He distributed tree cores and various leaves that added considerable punch to his presentation. To some of the 18 members present, he sparked memories reminiscent of happy high-school biology classes.
Dave taught or reminded us how plants work, reminding us that what we do makes a difference.
If we over fertilize there is a greater concentration of salts around the roots and we have x osmosis.
If we leave our plants root laying in the sun the root hairs die and the plant must replace them before the plant can provide food for growth.
If we ring bark a stem our plant can no longer feed itself.
If we want to move our plant in warm weather we can temporally block the stomatal pores with an anti transparent until the roots and stem are back in balance.
Cambium heals pruning wounds if we cut around the abscission layer.
In closing, we were reminded that our garden plants are wonderful structures that take these basic principles and adjust and modify them to help them tolerate all kinds of climates and conditions.
In March the winter-weary world begins to awaken from its long rest. Now the remnants of winter are washed away by what is often to referred to as the “tides of March”.
In every pond, lake, river and stream, the water that was frozen a month ago begins to thaw and flow again. In our gardens frost rises to the surface and the earth ooses underfoot. In every tree and shrub, that vital fluid known as sap begins to rise, and as a result, buds begin to swell. We don’t see or hear sap rising but it’s there. In small plant growth or a towering tree, leaves, color and syrup are being produced.
It is a time of observation, preparation and anticipation as we look forward to another gardening season.
For our garden club, March is also a time to end our winter break and begin regular meetings. Watch for news under the categories: Current Activities, Annual Gardeners Sale, & Annual Flower Show and Tea. There will be many opportunities to learn, support and participate, enjoying varied garden club activities.
Coincidentally, late winter is the best time to prune deciduous trees and large shrubs. We usually head out into the yard with pruners in hand starting in late February or early March. We get a jump-start on our pruning along with an early gift of spring color inside our house. We prune our trees and shrubs for shape and to remove crossing branches and old or diseased wood. From the wood we have cut off the plant we can select branches for forcing that are less than 1/2 inch in diameter and cut them to the desired length.
Many ornamental trees and shrubs set their flower buds during the previous growing season. These buds will usually come out of dormancy after two to three weeks of being exposed to warmth and moisture.
Forsythia, pussy willow, quince, cherry, apple, peach, magnolia, are all good candidates.
Choose branches that have lots of buds and put them in water as you work. After bringing the branches inside, fill a sink with very warm water—as hot as you can stand it without scalding your hands. Very warm water is important because it contains the least amount of oxygen. If oxygen gets into the stems it can block water from being taken up, thus preventing hydration.
Hold the stems underwater and recut them at a severe angle an inch or two above the original cut. The stems will quickly absorb the water. Arrange the branches in your vase, which should be filled with warm water so the ends are submerged. Place in a cool room or if you want the process to go more quickly in a warmer room. At this time of year, it may take only a few days for pussy willow to bloom and look their best. Forsythia takes a few days more and the other varieties can take up to several weeks.
It is very satisfying to sit and observe the daily progress of buds as they swell and burst open bringing a bit of spring blossom inside.
The author of a blog post I follow lives in California and I enjoy reading his blogs, mainly about gardening, as he is a horticulturalist. Today he wrote about his “adventure” with Pepe, the skunk. Since we sometimes have unwanted encounters with both racoons and skunks and with his permission I have reposted.