Which plants you should prune back in the fall

 

For some reason, the fall season is when many gardeners get the itch to prune back plants in their gardens.  The guidelines are as follows, at least for our zone 4 to 5 gardens here in Ottawa, Ontario:

  • if a shrub blooms early (before June) wait until after flowering to prune.  Some examples of early bloomers that need that old wood to bloom on are lilacs, forsythia, bridal wreath spireas, sand cherries, weigela, ninebarks, rhododendrons, viburnum, cranberry bushes, flowering dogwoods and magnolias.
  • if the shrub blooms after June, it can be pruned back in the fall or in the early spring when new growth is visible.  Examples include Snowball and PeeGee Hydrangeas, spireas (except for bridal wreath), Butterfly bush, smoke tree, hibiscus (rose of Sharon), and red stemmed dogwoods.
  • woody shrubs like boxwoods, junipers and cedars can be trimmed back in the fall too, but also throughout the growing season (spring and summer)
  • some shrubs are best pruned while dormant (late fall to very early spring, late February to early March)  These include barberries, smoke bush, crepe myrtles, spireas (except bridal wreath variety), dogwoods, and cotoneasters.
  • to rejuvenate shrubs that flower poorly, are overgrown or straggly, cut them back to just above the first bud above the soil while the plant is still dormant.  Shrubs that do well with this drastic treatment include spireas, lilacs, ninebarks, forsythias, barberry, weigela, blue mist, forsythia, honeysuckle, and potentilla (cinquefoil).  You may sacrifice the flowers the first season after this rejuvenation, but the plant will be healthier.
  • deciduous (non-evergreen) trees are best pruned when dormant (late winter) as well.  It is much easier to see the structure of the tree before the leaves come out.  Winter pruning also prevents the formation of bacteria and disease in the cuts. The wounds will heal quickly as new growth starts shortly after pruning.
  • dead branches can be cut off any time in the season.
  • after the first frost, remove any leaves from roses and apply mulch to the crowns. This prevents the plants from heaving from the ground during freeze/thaw cycles. You can cut the longs stems of the most tender floribundas, hyrdrid teas and grandifloras back to 20 inches before winter too to prevent them from breaking off under a heavy snowfall.  Another tip for tender roses is to apply a collar around the bush and fill it (loosely) with leaves.  Wait to prune others back until daffodils start to bloom in the spring to ensure the ground temperature is sufficiently warm.  Dead or broken branches can be cut off in the fall or any other time of the season.  Suckers can also be removed in the fall, cutting them out as close to the base of the plant as possible.

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Perennials can be, but do not have to be, deadheaded (remove dead blossoms) and cut back in the fall.  Remove sturdy flower stalks (coneflowers etc) right back to the foliage at the base of the plant.  Some gardeners like to leave these stalks on the plants over the winter for birds and their snow-covered beauty.  On softer plants simply remove the browned and dead looking, limp or soggy foliage (daylilies, peonies, bleeding hearts etc) and cut back their stems to six or eight inches from the ground.  I like to do everything I can in the fall because spring seems to be so short lived these days and I run out of springtime hours in the gardens.  Whenever you clean up your gardens, remember to harvest the seeds for future (freebie) plants as I did for my cottage garden.

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pictures from Pexels and Pixabay

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Happy Thanksgiving

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It is Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada.  We celebrate the second Monday in October, while other countries celebrate in November.  I believe the reason for that is the fact that our winters arrive sooner here, so our harvests are earlier.   Afterall, Thanksgiving did originate as a celebration after harvest was complete.

Regardless of when you celebrate Thanksgiving, be sure to remember all the things you are grateful for.  This previous post listed the things I was grateful for two years ago.  All of these still apply, with the wonderful addition of my sons’ significant others and two (with a third one on the way) grandchildren.

With the arrival of grandchildren comes a new addition to my dining room furniture, just in time for Thanksgiving…

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Increased taxes for small business owners

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Our Canadian Liberal government wants to increase the income tax rate for small businesses.  As a small business owner, I cringe at the significance this has for me.

Like myself, many small business owners have risked starting a business based on a particular passion and taken many years to build a clientele and show a profit.  Tax breaks are few and far between making it possible to follow a dream and succeed, but rarely get rich.  Some years are good, others great, yet some not so good.  Proceeds from the good and great years must be used to subsidize the not so good years; you know the saying “save for a rainy day.”

 

Both owners and employees of small businesses are, for the most part, dedicated and passionate individuals that do not get benefits or pensions or severance packages if the business goes under.  The absence of these “perks” creates a great risk for both the owner and the employees.  All these new tax rules will do is squash the dream of entrepreneurs with a passion whether the business is already up and running or still in the planning stage.

Does the Liberal government really believe that increasing the income tax levels of small business owners will significantly build their coffers?  The money gained will be a drop in the bucket compared to the massive national debt owed. They might want to look elsewhere for bigger fish and leave us little guys alone.

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pictures from Pexels

Have remnants of Hurricane Harvey arrived in Ottawa?

Have remnants of Hurricane Harvey arrived in Ottawa today?  There are a few signs that say he may have…

First off the wind is unreal (of course, not nearly as bad as Texans experienced)  When I left my house this morning it was cool (I needed long sleeves and long pants) and cloudy out, but rather nice for gardening (especially compared to yesterday when the sun was very strong and hot).  Two hours later I was weeding and pruning shrubs in my son’s garden and I could barely stand up and the lawn waste bags were like kites…

 

 

 

On my way home I noticed the price of gas here in Ottawa has gone way up too.  Apparently, that too is a remnant of Hurricane Harvey.  With many refineries on Texas’ gulf coast forced to close due to the storm, the wholesale price of gas has risen.  To Canadian consumers, that has translated to at least 10 cents per litre.

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I thought this price was bad, two days later it was up to 131.9 cents per liter….Crazy!

 

I’m pretty sure Canada has its own share of oil refineries so why has the closure of some in Texas affect our gas prices so drastically?  Is it because we must charge an international price for gas to prevent Americans from flooding across our border to fill up if our rates are significantly cheaper?

We wouldn’t mind, after all, we Canadians are the welcoming, friendly sort.

Thunderstorm season

The weather here in Ottawa has seen a few hot sunny days typical of our summer season, but thunderstorm season would be a much more accurate description.

 

Once again I was chased from a client’s garden due to a thunderstorm today.  I am averaging at least one thunderstorm per week this summer.  There has been a lot more than that, but I am only counting the ones during the day when I am out and about visiting gardens.

I do not mind working in the rain, in fact, rain helps keep me cool and keeps the mosquitoes away from me.  Wet gardens are also easier to remove weeds from.  If it rains too hard, I seek shelter under an overhang until the rain subsides enough to work in…

 

Thunderstorms are different though, they make me nervous when I get caught outside in one.   I am always worried that if I get struck by lightning, no one would notice or find me since I usually work in gardens where no one is home.

I do love to watch and listen to thunderstorms from the safety of my home though!

Canada Day weekend

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In case you haven’t heard, Canada celebrated its 150th birthday this past weekend.  Although Mother Nature had to put her two cents in with a few thunderstorms and torrential rain, the party atmosphere was rampant coast to coast as Canadians young and old, rich and poor, lifelong citizens and new immigrants celebrated our wonderful country, together.

 

 

The fireworks lit up the skies across the country, although some displays were a bit rain delayed (and in some areas rescheduled)…

 

 

This video is just one of the many fireworks displays:

 

 

Even royalty showed up to help celebrate our country.  Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall attended the ceremonies on Parliament Hill and were escorted out of the Ottawa area Sunday morning by fighter jets and other military aircraft.  We heard the roar of the engines overhead as we came out of Canadian Tire (appropriately) and I quickly but blindly (into the sun and clouds) snapped a few pictures into the general vicinity of the noise…

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Some Canadians started the celebration Friday and had to return to work today, while others have today to recuperate.  Those of us who are self-employed have an extra long weekend! Regardless, I think it’s safe to say everyone had a great weekend!

 

 

Welcome to April

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Well, although our April here in Ottawa is (typically) not quite as colorful as this picture, it does bring signs of spring.  We drove up to our cottage this past weekend to check things out and still could not get in the driveway as it is covered in snow, but things are starting to thaw out:

 

Spring is here….finally!