March 16

Dead Wood

I’m waiting for the water in the soil from the melted snow to percolate down into the water table so the weight of walking on it won’t compress the soil, which is bad for roots trying to grow. Once the soil has dried out a bit I will start cutting back the dead wood in the garden. The dried seed heads, the rose branches, the ornamental grasses, the broken branches from the heavy snow, the hydrangea heads all get cut back to encourage new growth. If you don’t cut back the dead wood, bugs and molds can take over and the plant wastes energy trying to support something that is dead. In trees there’s a thing called a branch collar. It’s the swollen looking base of every tree branch. It’s full of growth hormones that protects the tree if a limb is damaged and stimulates new growth if the pruning is done carefully. Once I’ve cut the dead wood off, the plant sometimes looks a little bare but I remember that it will fill out with new growth so quickly I’ll forget it once looked so bare.

What dead wood in your life will you be cutting back this spring to stimulate your growth?