It looks like a good spring for forsythia this year. I’m seeing plenty of yellow flowers on forsythia shrubs all around our area.
Some bushes have loads of flowers while others look not quite as nice. The difference is, gardeners with forsythia loaded with flowers have taken the time to prune their shrubs, while the others have just let their shrubs fend for themselves.
Unfortunately, some people prune their forsythia right along with their other trees and shrubs in the early spring while everything is still dormant.
Forsythia flower buds grow and form during the summer then, open up and bloom in the spring. So, if you prune in the spring while the plants are dormant, you end up cutting off those flower buds that grew last year.
The proper time to prune forsythia is right after the flower petals fall off of the stems.
Remove the largest, coarsest stems by cutting them off right at ground level. This will stimulate your shrub to send up fresh, new stems with plenty of those flower buds we’re looking for.
Next spring you’ll have a more balanced looking shrub with a profusion of yellow forsythia blossoms. Your neighbors will think you are a gardening genius.
This week I’m helping a friend decide where to plant some evergreens in his yard.
Now is the perfect time to make those decisions because the leaves are gone from the trees and bushes in the yard. Since evergreens keep their leaves or needles, their deep green color will stand out from the rest of the vegetation during the winter. So, it’s important to place them in the right spot. We’re trying to get a better idea how an evergreen will look in the yard space next winter and the following winters.
The other reason we’re doing the planning now is because we won’t be distracted by all of the spring time foliage of the other trees and shrubs. It’s too easy to get fooled into picking the wrong spot for your evergreen and regret the choice next winter.
We’re going to visually survey his yard and try to imagine how the evergreens will look in a different places around the property. Also, I keep reminding him that we need to keep in mind how big the trees or shrubs will get as they grow through the years.
Once we make the final decision, we’ll drive a stake in each spot to remind us of the planting spots. The actual planting will take place next spring.
This is not a fool-proof method but it gives us more information to help us make the best planting decision.
For several years now, autumn olives have been growing in the wild area of our property. Part of that area I want to turn into an orchard so most of the autumn olives have to go.
These shrubs were introduced into Michigan a few decades ago to improve wildlife habitat. Since then, they have invaded thousands of acres in our state.
Autumn olives produce a huge crop of berries that many species of birds eat. Each berry contains a single seed. Once a bird eats a berry, the seed passes through the bird’s digestive system. It then gets deposited in the bird droppings — sometimes many miles away — starting a new stand of autumn olive. Much of the fruit on the shrubs has ripened; that means the birds are eating them already.
- Autumn olive is an attractive shrub. Its bright red berries stand out among the silvery-green leaves.
In the past, I’ve tried chopping the shrubs with an axe or spraying them with herbicide; they always seemed to come back.
This year I bought a circular brush cutting blade for my commercial-duty weed whacker. It has only six cutting teeth that look like the teeth on a chainsaw. The outer edge of that blade spins a lot faster than any saw chain moves so six teeth are all you really need to do some serious cutting. Plus, there is no kickback with this blade making it very safe to use.
Once the shrubs are cut down, I brush full strength glyphosate herbicide onto the fresh stumps. The remaining stump and roots quickly absorb the herbicide and die.
I found out the hard way that autumn olive plants have very sharp spines that can puncture normal leather gloves. The very tips of those spines often break off deep into the flesh of your hands and fingers causing irritation lasting several days.
I’ve spent about six hours cutting and dabbing herbicide and have made a small but noticeable dent in the population. Looks like I’ll need several more days to finish that orchard area.
The Lilacs have really been putting in a show this spring. They started blooming quite a bit later because of the cool temperatures. The flowers have been looking fresh longer too.
- Lilacs have been flowering profusely this spring.
Some of the early varieties have started to fade, but the later varieties are still looking fine. A big bouquet of Lilacs can really brighten up a room. Also, cutting flower stems is just about the best kind of pruning you can do for your Lilac bush. Cut off as many stems as you need; you won’t hurt the plant.
Keep your flowers fresh by stripping off the leaves from the stem. Also crush the base of the stems before placing them into water. A pair of pliers works well for small stems; use a small hammer for larger stems.
It’s a very good idea to snip off all of the old flowers once your Lilac has finished blooming. Removing all the faded flowers will help stimulate the plant to produce even more flowers next year. The old flowers never fall off, they end up forming brown panicles that makes the shrub look a bit messy. So, that is another good reason to remove them.
Don’t worry if you are not able to get to snipping off the flowers, your Lilac will still do just fine without any attention. That is another reason why Lilacs have been so popular since colonial times.
There is also a discussion on crushing Lilac stems here.