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Ice storm opportunities in your backyard

March 2, 2009
As a gardener, I see most garden disasters, e.g. our devastating December ice storm, as opportunities. For example, I will miss my old Silver Maple (well, sort of) but I welcome the chance to replace a loss with something new and more rewarding.
In recent years, tree and shrub hybridizers have been working non-stop to develop versions of old favorites that fit nicely into our small yards. Definitely worth considering are smaller redbuds, dogwoods, magnolias and maples that are now available. My small-scale favorites are pagoda dogwood, maackia, paperbark maple and smokebush. Also, notice that most evergreens survived the storm. You may not have the room to replace a fallen crab or Bartlett pear with an eventually huge pine or fir, but there are now lots of dwarf or columnar evergreens on the market that are extremely attractive.

When it does come time to select a replacement, please read the tag before you buy (especially the bit about the MATURE size), remove but save the tag after you buy and plant (based on the MATURE size). Remember to water the roots weekly and well in the first season after planting. I’d like to add that staking a new tree often does more harm than good, but an early, knowledgeable pruning is a good thing. Any questions, contact our fabulous local extension office help desk (481-6826) or me (

Pat Thomson



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