Clip Oakleaf and Hydrangea Paniculata Flowers for Decoration
Though it isn't time to "prune" hydrangeas, it's fine to clip off attractive flower heads for bouquets, or to decorate a holiday wreath or topiary. We were fortunate to spot rosy pink flowers on overgrown branches as well as clusters with drier, wheat-colored petals. We clipped off 6- to 8-inch stems. I arranged most in a vase on the piano and slipped several larger flowers into a wicker cone by the front door.
Don't Prune Roses or Other Live Wood
Just because your neighbor urges pruning roses now, that doesn't mean you should. Why not? This is important botany/chemistry to remember. Pruning shrubs, trees, and select perennials stimulates growth. Plants are getting ready for winter dormancy. Their life systems are slowing down. They're storing food in their roots. Pruning live wood will stir up their hormones. We want plants to calm down for a winter sleep.
Mulch Dry Leaves
If your grass mower chops finely, rake dry leaves from flower beds and paths into the yard. Drive or push the mower over the leaves till they're as fine as possible. If you're lucky, leaf bits will disappear into the grass -- to decompose into nutrients. If they're small yet still have shape, use as garden mulch under shrubs and to protect roses.
To Lift or Not To Lift -- Dahlias and Cannas
Lifting dahlia and canna tubers by the first frost has been tradition in climes with cold winters. Left in the ground to freeze, they've been mush by spring. Gardeners in USDA Hardiness Zones 6a and colder should get out the shovels and remove and store tubers. Some gardeners in southeast Pennsylvania report dahlias and cannas overwintering in their USDA Zone 6b gardens do just fine come summer. Global climate change in play? If you give this a try, here are tips. Use protected beds -- next to the house, for example -- for radiant heat. Generously mulch sunny beds to reduce temperature fluctuation. Don't expect success in shady spots.
Share School's Enviro Project Videos
The Mother Nature Network (http://www.mnn.com/), due to launch January 2009, is interested in featuring class projects about environmental projects nationwide. They are already working with video students at Georgia State University and UNC-Chapel Hill. If you have a video, film, or multimedia class about environmental issues, contact managing editor Emily Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org.