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The very sound of the words, Japanese Beetles invokes irritation, frustration and gloom among Minnesota gardeners. We can see them in our minds chewing, crawling, and decimating our Roses, our tropical Hibiscus flowers, our Grapevines and….our souls!
As I’m sitting here piecing together the latest tips for pruning deciduous trees, I can look out my window and see a beautiful Betula nigra (River Birch) in my neighbor’s landscape, and right next door on the other side, a massively, giant Acer saccharinum (Silver Maple). I would never have thought there is a common thread between Birches and Maples when it comes to pruning. Yet in spite of their many differences, especially size and look, both need to be pruned in the months of June and July when sap production is relatively lower. Both of these trees “bleed” heavily in late winter when the days are sunny, and warmer (relatively speaking for Minnesota winters), and the nighttime climate is just below freezing. These temperatures trigger a pressure build up in the roots of the Maples, and Birches as well, that pushes the sap up and into the limbs where it will freely flow out of any cut.
The varieties, the depth, the amount….the thought of mulching can provoke dread or motivation. Gardens LOVE mulch as it provides many benefits, but to some gardeners it may appear as a monumental task. Think of it as dressing up your garden beds, offering moisture retention and weed prevention. Doing this mulch work now, will certainly prevent more weeding work later.