In the gar­den

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - JANET CAR­SON

QRab­bits are de­stroy­ing some re­cently planted hostas. What would help pre­vent this? My daugh­ter-in­law has tried sprin­kling pep­per around ground … not work­ing … moth balls?

AWith an­i­mals, you need to try a va­ri­ety of tricks. There are sev­eral an­i­mal re­pel­lents on the mar­ket, in­clud­ing Re­pel and Hin­der. You can also phys­i­cally block the crea­tures, us­ing fences. Some gar­den­ers have luck by sprin­kling blood meal around — it is a ni­tro­gen source though, so be care­ful that you don’t burn the plants.

QWe were told to thin out our hol­lies so they would grow straight up. How­ever, now they look chopped, man­gled and ru­ined. What should we do at this point? Should we “top” them some? Or cut them down to the “nub” and pray they start sprout­ing at the bot­tom? Or should we wait un­til later in the year to do any prun­ing? There is a large, nice crape myr­tle in the back­ground whose “trunk” the hol­lies hide, and I wasn’t too en­am­ored of the hol­lies be­ing there any­way. What should we do? I read your col­umn re­li­giously, and I would

ap­pre­ci­ate your ad­vice.

AWhen did you prune them? This is not a great time to do any­thing else — we are in the hottest and dri­est time of the year, and there would be very lit­tle plant re­cov­ery. I hope you pruned them this spring. A poor prun­ing is sort of like a bad hair­cut. It will take time to grow back in. I think se­lec­tive thin­ning is a bet­ter idea than shearing. At this point, I would do noth­ing un­til Fe­bru­ary. See where new growth be­gins then and se­lec­tively thin, fer­til­ize and wa­ter. Grad­u­ally you will get them back in line. If you don’t like them, you can also cut them to the ground next spring and see what hap­pens.

QI fi­nally dug up the root of a Knock Out rose that died one stalk at a time in my backyard. The rose bush was in an area with sun about 50 per­cent of the day, but near the drip line of a South­ern mag­no­lia tree. If I want to re­plant the rose near the same lo­ca­tion, what mea­sures should I take to avoid los­ing an­other rose bush?

AMag­no­lias are large trees with com­pet­i­tive roots. Did you wa­ter the other rose bush? Rose bushes can be planted near mag­no­lias, and Knock Out roses can bloom with as lit­tle as four hours of sun­light; but you need to counteract the com­pet­i­tive­ness of the tree roots by wa­ter­ing and fer­til­iz­ing a lit­tle more. I don’t see any rea­son why you can’t re­plant.

QPlease see the pic­tures I am send­ing of this plant and how it has grown and fallen over. We have had it about 40 years. The lady who gave us this plant called it a mock or­ange tree; we don’t know the ac­tual name of the plant. We live in Fayetteville. What time of the year should we prune or trim it back and how much of it should we cut off?

AIt is a mock or­ange shrub — Philadel­phus is the genus. Mock or­ange is a cane-pro­duc­ing plant, mean­ing there is not a dom­i­nant trunk, but mul­ti­ple stems at the base. I think the only prun­ing you have done is to prune the tops of the canes, which makes the canes top-heavy. Af­ter it blooms next spring, prune out a third to half of the old canes at the soil line. This should en­cour­age new canes to grow from the soil up, which will make the shrub fuller and stronger. Then next year, take out the other half or an­other third. It is too late to prune now with­out in­ter­fer­ing with flow­er­ing for next year.

Spe­cial to the Demo­crat-Gazette/ RON WOLFE

Spe­cial to the Demo­crat-Gazette/ JANET B. CAR­SON

Shearing off the

top made this mock or­ange top-heavy; it’s bet­ter to thin cane pro­duc­ers like Philadel­phus at the soil line.

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