Musings About Family, Travel And Gardening With Allen Martinson.

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Drastic Pruning Pays Off

This spring is the kind of spring a nursery man dreams of. It has arrived early and gardeners are ready to get in their yards. With the crisis going on that has sent so many people home to take care of each other, there is really nowhere to turn but your yard.


I have been amazed at the rapid changes plants have made in the recent weeks. Every day something new shows itself. I am mostly relieved to see where my late winter pruning has paid off. My roses were cut back pretty hard in February. They have leafed out and budding heavily. I think we are going to have a great rose year with red and coral blooms dotted throughout our landscape.


If you haven’t tried the knockout roses or the shorter drift roses, you should put them on your list. Drift roses are perfect for areas where you want a lower growing plant in full sun that thrives in dry conditions. Drift roses bloom profusely for most months of the year.


We have a river of gold running through our backyard. We planted 75 sunshine ligustrums in a flowing serpentine river that connects several of our beds. After eight years of growth, they grew to four feet tall and were beginning to hide some other plants. I made a bold decision to cut them all the way back to their main trunks. I was pretty confident they would come back better off looking refreshed. I have to admit that most of my fear that came from this river of gold is one of Mimi’s greatest visions. The gold ties the whole garden together, and our burgundies and dark greens count on the gold to make their contrasting colors pop like nothing I’ve seen.


If anything would have happened to that river of gold, I would be moving into our motor home, living the life of a man in the doghouse. I am so relieved the sunshine ligustrums, which are actually a short, gold privet, are my allies. They kept me out of the doghouse by exploding with gold foliage, so the river continues to flow.


This was the winter I decided to cut the evergreen wisteria back to main vines, which are now great woody trunks winding themselves up four eight-by-eight posts which holds up our arbor. Just yesterday the leaves popped out and I began breathing easier.


It’s scary in the winter when it’s time to prune some of these plants not knowing for sure if they will act right when the time comes. Judging by some of the comments I hear from customers, I am not the only one who lives in fear of causing a marital conflict by some of my gardening antics.


I vowed to report on any organic methods I have switched over to in my yard. I got an opportunity to use horticultural oil on my fruit trees, protecting them from borers. I am happy to report that while the tree was blooming, the pollinator fairies showed up and I think I have too many peaches on my trees. I think I should thin some of them out so the others can grow fat and juicy.


I am using a flame thrower for weed control. This method is way more fun than spraying Roundup and just as effective. I also think i might be looking for trouble in the marriage arena again. Already I have burnt up some junipers, scalded some yaupon hollies, and melted one of my up-lights. I really must pay attention and stop trying to take videos of me burning ant beds to show my buddies my cool new toy.


This perfect weather spring is also going to be the most challenging spring I’ve ever had as a nursery man. We have shut our gates to shoppers in order to do our part to stop the spread of the virus. We are selling our plants over the phone, and we are offering a new shopping experience for our loyal customers.


We have our entire plant inventory online so you can shop from home and get the plants delivered to your front door. We probably should have done this a long time ago. I’ve been amazed at how extensive our plant list is. Check out our website and click on the Shop Now button. You can see pictures of all of our varieties.


This is not what anyone pictured this spring to look like, but it’s the only way I could figure out to keep all of our employees working. We don’t like the inconvenience any more than you do, but we strongly believe this is best for our community, especially our elderly population. We appreciate everyone trying this out with us. When this is over, we will be back to normal and maybe better off with our ability to shop from home with to-your-door delivery.


Our landscape company and pot design and planting company is still running 100 percent, so let us know if we can help you with that. We have added creating vegetable gardens to our long list of services we provide.


I hope the best for everyone during this crisis. We have to respect each other now more than ever and check on our neighbors and elderly who still may be in denial that this is happening.

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