Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

To Prune or Not to Prune

Deer Damage, Mary Stone of Garden Dilemmas, Garden Blog, Gardening Blog

Hello fellow readers,

To prune or not to prune, that is the question from Mary of Blairstown (that would be me) and oodles of others who are perplexed and annoyed by the devastating damage from the harsh winter. Plants that normally would be well on their way to showing signs of promise look dead in their tracks. Heavily browsed broadleaf evergreens, considered deer resistant, were chomped to bits other than the branches that remained undercover by snow. That is my dilemma.

Half of each rear foundation shrub looks like it went for a radical Mohawk haircut. While I felt sorry for the hungry critters during the deep freeze, here we are approaching June and I’m feeling sorrier for the shrubs and contemplate my willingness to deal with their process of recovery. Perhaps I should yank them and start over? Or move them to a holding and healing section as my mantra is to give each plant and person every shot to rebound. It can be hard to let go and exhausting to hang on!

The two rules of thumb is to cut back winter damage in spring and the other is to wait a few months to see if the plant sends out new growth on the damaged branches to avoid disfiguring the plant. Typically by now we should see signs of life but just yesterday I advised Nancy on Hunts Pond to give her ornamental grasses and butterfly bush a few more weeks before the heave ho; optimism, denial or procrastination? I say optimism as our growing season is a bit delayed thank you very much.

In truth it’s time to improve appearance and health, train the young, control size, prevent injury or damage, rejuvenate the old and influence bounty. Reasons to prune parallel caring for self and family don’t you think? While the subject of when to prune is comprehensive; simplified – prune after the plant completes its bloom cycle. Or when it comes to encouraging recovery after a harsh winter, have at it when you can’t take it anymore. There are, after all, limits to holding on to what should be let go. Recovery rocks!

Garden Dilemmas? askmarystone@gmail.com

Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary

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