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Do no harm; stop shearing every tree and shrub within sight

To The Daily Sun,

With spring's somewhat uncertain arrival we still look forward to getting outdoors more and improving the appearance of our yards. Buds on plants have sprouted and early flowering is is progress. Pruning of shrubs is not far away and in some cases should already have been done. Do you know what to do, how to do it and when it should be done?

Unfortunately, I have seen no evidence that it is common knowledge although it is not particularly difficult. So, let's look at the basics and get you on the road to better looking healthier and better flowering plants.

First .... do no harm. Stop shearing every thing in sight. Unless you want a formal look and have the right design and plants for it, do not shear anything. Do not shear your needle evergreen trees or shrubs.

The trees don't need it or want it and the shrubs (yews and junipers) are much healthier and better looking when pruned properly and less often. Deciduous shrubs (forsythia, weigela, lilac, viburnum) fare poorly under shearing although they fight to survive as plants do. But their health and the beauty that they could provide under proper care are degraded and the money you spent on them wasted.

This prompts the question: Why do people shear all their plants? Lots of reasons. They don't know how, and simply copy what others do. Another reason is improper plant selection and location which leads to overcrowding and thus shearing.

Flowering shrubs are plants meant for shrub borders and not for building foundations with a few exceptions. Good landscape design is necessary for an attractive planting with well spaced shrubs and trees for specific purposes and particular results. Another reason given for shearing is because it is faster and more efficient. That may be debatable depending upon the circumstances, but is it worth the loss of quality? Shearing produces an unnatural and formalized shape that is usually out of place with its surroundings. Shearing is usually done at the wrong time of year often resulting in the loss of flower bud formation for next spring's display. Over time shearing constricts a plants natural growth pattern, shutting out light from within and reducing the viability of latent buds and therefore the possibility of successful rejuvenation. Shearing may also be required more than once a year; pruning does not.

There are three basic kinds of growth: terminal, which are single-stemmed trees; basal growers, which are shrubs that produce many stems from a basal crown at the ground line; and intermediate growers which simply are the larger shrubs like lilac, viburnam, etc. Each of these three groups are pruned a little differently because of their size and growth habits.

Obviously, trees can only be pruned in the top part of the plant by judicial thinning of unwanted branches. Basal growers such as forsythia are pruned at the ground line only as that is where new growth should come from and not from the top of the plant. This will contain the natural size of the plant and aid flowering. Do not in any way "tip" the top branches or otherwise shape the top of basal growing shrubs as new growth will originate just below the pruning cut and not from the basal crown as desired.

Best flowering is produced on canes that are five years old at the ground line. As that is a little hard to determine, simply remove two or three of the oldest canes at the ground line each year limiting it to a maximum of one-fifth of the total number of canes.

When to prune is important but simple. Shrubs that bloom in the spring formed their flower buds on growth made the previous year. So, prune right after flowering to allow the remainder of the current year to produce new growth and buds for next spring. Shrubs that flower in late season (P.G. Hydrangea) bloom on the current year's growth and should be pruned in early spring before growth starts.

The red stem dogwood, basically a border plant, known for its bright red branches and commonly used in this vicinity but often poorly placed, should be thinned at the basal crown as above in early spring before growth starts to produce new and colorful stems each year. That's why you buy it so don't shear it. Left untended the stems grow old and thick and will attract borers and the plant will become unsightly and may eventually die.

Evergreen shrubs (yews, junipers) look more natural when pruned. Arborvitae should be sheared moderately, that is, not too tightly, in order to maintain enough density to prevent snow and ice damage.

Early spring and mid-summer are best times. Simply prune with hand shears about two thirds of the new growth To reduce size, or to rejuvenate, prune back into two-, three- or four-year-old wood, or further, on a healthy plant in early spring. Fertilize for new growth.

So, observe your plantings intelligently and learn their individual growth habits and structures. Stop butchering and start pruning for a better looking and healthier yard or business establishment.

This information may be confirmed on the website for the New Hampshire Agricultural Cooperative Service.

Bryan Walker


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Leftists believe children belong to the 'government collective'

To The Daily Sun,

I sentence Professor Cracraft to 12, uninterrupted, hours of listening to the "Hallelujah Chorus" for his secular silliness in asserting that there is no war on Christianity in this country. And he shall do so while sitting straight up on a "hard on the tuckus" pew. "And he shall reign forever and ever." Yes I know, it is but a silly wish and if wishes were horses then beggars would ride. But hey, I feel better just visualizing Scott in this uncomfortable position for yet another ball faced lie in his last column.

Ever since the 1960s sexual revolution, the secularists and atheists have been trying to kill the Christian religious conscience in favor of some militant view of self-determination. You know, praying to the inner god of human will and power. All the while, living in the narcissistic world where, if it feels good do it, do it in the road mentality. It's the new gender-free society where the radicalized Supreme Court can mandate that all priests must marry those in the gay community. That all bakeries must cater to gay weddings. More states are realizing that their religious liberty protection is now vulnerable to lawsuits.

It must have been like a brain freeze headache for Secretary of State John Kerry to admit that there is Christian genocide going on in the Middle East, home to the religion of peace. Of course even the professor knows that the left has been attacking Christianity for a long, long time when one looks at the history of socialism and communism, and of course Islam, seemingly blood brothers of the left.

The freedom of religion principle has been used in subtle and now not-so-subtle ways to marginalize prayers and Christian traditions. Remember back during the government shutdown when Catholic priests were threatened with being arrested for performing voluntary Masses? Or when former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel stated that priests do not contribute to the morale and well-being of military personnel? Those disruptive students at Wickenburg Christian Academy were told to knock off those quiet prayers on the steps of the Supreme Court. Who can forget when Christian missionaries were arrested for having the audacity to discuss Christianity on the public sidewalk of an Arab festival of diversity. Now that was pure blasphemy, lock 'em up!

Of course these rules do not apply do the doctrine of mosque and state. While the ACLU is hell-bent on banning Christian prayers in schools, they fight to allow for Muslims to pray in schools. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of examples of the war on Christianity by the left.

And what about the Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell? They had to go to court to fight for their religious beliefs against the Obamacare insurance mandates for businesses. As decrees dictator Obama from on high, you little sisters will make a habit of providing abortifacients, prescription contraceptives and surgical sterilizations or I will damn well put you out of business. As far as I know, there is still hope for the Little Sisters of the Poor. Let us all pray. Can't you just picture a nun rapping little Scottie on the knuckles while demanding that he pay attention to his lessons. Visualization can be such fun.

Yes, let's not hold our breath waiting for the man who claims to love critical thinking, to do some critical thinking while debating those who dare to disagree with him.

Oh, and one other item for the professor. Your claim that chiropractors tell their patients not to vaccinate. That is also a lie from all that I know and I know about a dozen chiropractors. Listen closely, Scott, because this is not a difficult concept. Chiropractors give their patients information about vaccines and flu shots so that they can have an intelligent conversation with their doctors and come up with an informed decision and thus make an informed choice using critical thinking skills. Parents of children are still allowed to use their critical thinking skills, aren't they, Scott?

Of course the left continually reminds us that children actually belong to the "government collective" and not to their parents, as Melissa Harris-Perry reminded us not too long ago. As far as I know, chiropractors are not allowed to announce to their patients, "do not vaccinate your children." Careful Scott, your slandering of chiropractors almost sounds a little like libel. I would hate for anything to tarnish your distinguished reputation as a teacher and instructor of young souls eager to learn objective, critical thinking skills from you.

Russ Wiles

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