Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Time to Prune Your Evergreens

wreath photos©Alan & Linda Detrick, design Ellen Spector Platt, cookies Judy Benson

Advice is pretty unanimous among experts at University Extension Services in colder regions. “Prune in late March or early April before new growth begins. Light pruning may also be done in late June or early July. Avoid pruning evergreen shrubs in the fall. Fall pruned evergreens are more susceptible to winter injury.” (Iowa State Extension Service)

I’m not trained as a horticulturalist but as a farmer who learned the hard way. I sold distinctive evergreen wreaths at my
Meadow Lark Flower &
Herb Farm, all greens
coming from judicious
pruning in mid to late
November. We pruned
more if we sold more.
Even in zone 5 in NE
Pennsylvania, I never
had shrub damage.
Here in New York City, I
still prune as I need the
materials. This year it’s
for a few centerpieces
and the tree pits in
front of my building.

1. Trim some ever-
greens,and some ivy.
Try for a variety of
greens and golds,
some needle and broad leaf branches and some ivy. Cut each stem from an inconspicuous spot, shaping the shrub as you harvest the materials you need. Buy to fill in where necessary.
2. Stand materials in a bucket of tepid water overnight.
3. Stand short branches in tree pits. They’ll look as if you planted dwarf evergreens.
4. To make a long-lasting wreath for a centerpiece, buy a ring of flower foam like Oasis. It comes with a plastic bottom that protects your table. Soak in a sink filled with water for fifteen minutes, drain carefully and dry the bottom. Add greens around the exterior first, then the top, and don’t forget smaller pieces on the interior so no foam is visible.
5. Here master
baker Judy
Benson con-
tributes ginger-
bread cookies
baked on lolly-
pop sticks to
add extra in-
terest to the
6. Depending
on the temperature of the room, the wreath will look great for a month or more if you take it to the sink, and carefully add water every three or four days, wiping the bottom each time. If you choose to hang the wreath, hold upright over the sink first, as more water will drain out.

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