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Report From An Opinionated Gardener – January 19

I’m loving how my red twig dogwood shrubs look this winter. They’re three years old so have grown enough so that they are a bright presence in the rain garden, catching the afternoon sun and providing a roosting place for small birds. If I’m smart, however, I’ll cut a good portion of their stems down to the ground this spring.

“But they’re finally looking so good,” a part of me protests. It seems a shame to chop the plants just as they gain enough height and colorful twigs to make them an asset in the garden.

Part of gardening is embracing the concept of “tough love.” We gardeners must sometimes take a hard stand in order to keep order in seasons to come. That red twig dogwood that is looking so fine this winter will be twice the height with less-than-red stems in the future if I don’t take action. Pruning half of the stems down to the ground in the spring will keep the shrub at a reasonable size and stimulate the growth of new, bright red twigs.

Given such rejuvenating cuts, my shrubs will continue to delight me with their winter color and be a bushy haven for birds. Sometimes you have to make the hard cuts in order to provide for all in the seasons to come.

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