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Into the Garden: It's time to pollard and coppice

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's that time of year -- for pollarding and coppicing. Yes, that's what I've been told.

These two words keep cropping up in recent gardening articles, so I've done a bit of searching to see what they mean, how they are alike and how they are different.

Done annually, coppicing is good for plants that have winter interest, such as shrubby dogwoods, willows and brambles, according to Horticulture magazine. Coppicing is cutting the plant down to about 3 inches tall. The new growth will be brighter next winter. If the shrub isn't very vigorous, cut only a third of the oldest stems.

The noun "coppice" means a growth of small trees or a forest coming from shoots or suckers. Traditionally, in woodland management, young tree stems are cut year after year to create "stools," to be harvested after it regrows.

In pollarding, the upper branches of a tree or shrub are removed, promoting a dense head of foliage and branches. Traditionally, pollarding was used to encourage the tree to produce new growth on a regular basis to maintain a supply of new wood for various purposes, particularly for fuel. Photos of pollarded trees look like the trees under the power lines in our area.

Pollarding is good for yellow twig willow (Salix alba var. vitelina 'Britzensis'). "Pollarding creates one (or more) persistent trunk(s) with a dense head of new stems each year," Horticulture magazine explains. "Several strong stems were selected to remain in the plant's second year; the rest were cut to the ground. The trunks were trimmed to roughly three feet and new stems sprouted from their tops."

Modern-style planters

For the longest time, it seemed like all outdoor accessories had a country flair; while they were perfect for some, I was always looking for more modern designs.

Allmodern.com has some fabulous planters aimed at a more modern architectural style. I've also noticed a lot of the online merchants are offering outdoor options that suit a variety of tastes.

While I love the look of old barnwood and antique wheelbarrows, I also like stainless steel and recyclable polycarbonate. The Blomus Nido Bird Feeder, made of stainless steel, is quite fabulous in its design simplicity.

Open conference registration

The West Virginia Master Gardener Program, a training and service program for expert gardeners from across the state, will open registration for the annual conference to the public for the first time this year.

The conference, "Gardening: Preserving Our Future," will take place April 13-15 at East Fairmont High School and will feature leading experts in the gardening industry. Workshop topics include food preservation, organic pest-free gardens, birding, small fruits, invasive species, heirloom tomatoes and more. The conference workshops are geared toward midlevel to expert gardeners.

KDKA radio's Jessica Walliser, who serves as co-host of "The Organic Gardeners," will give the keynote address April 14, focusing on "neglected annuals."

To register online or view a full schedule of workshops, visit www.mastergardeners.ext.wvu.edu. Participants can register for the full conference, plus additional workshops and day tours. The price for the full conference is $100 for Master Gardeners and $110 for the general public.

The conference is sponsored by Marion County Master Gardeners, West Virginia Master Gardener Association and WVU Extension Service.

Contact Cassie Waugh: Cassie.waugh@mail.wvu.edu, 304-293-8735 (office), 304-376-1829 (cell).

Pre-emergent still applies

Gardeners know that pre-emergent weed killers need to be applied before the forsythia blooms, to beat the weeds. With our early spring, I've had a lot of questions about whether products like Preen are still effective. Even though a lot of weeds have already emerged, there are still a lot of weeds to come. So it's not too late to apply!

Composting workshop

West Virginia State University Extension Service will host a workshop focusing on composting from 2 to 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Rock Lake Community Life Center, 801 Lincoln Drive, South Charleston.

"More gardeners than ever are composting to recycle plant material in order to enhance their soil," says Scott Byars, program leader for agriculture and natural resources. "Our hope is to shed some light on how to create alternative compost bins while encouraging youths to participate in this recycling effort."

Topics in the workshop will include information on alternative "green" compost bins, troubleshooting tips and composting with kids. Each participant will receive their own wire composting bin.

A registration fee of $20 is required. Please contact the WVSU Extension Service offices at 304-204-4319 to reserve your spot in the workshop.

Roane Grown taking orders

The good folks at Roane Grown Nursery in Spencer are taking orders for spring plants. Among their new offerings are Astilbe 'Fanal,' Coreopsis 'Cosmic Eye' and a lovely Aruncus 'Misty Lace' (goatbeard).

Always a favorite at Capitol Market, their stall opens April 15. If you want to order before then, visit www.lwfperennials.com. You can call them at 304-927-2115 but they prefer emails: lonewillow@lwfperennials.com.

Reach Sara Busse at sara.busse@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.


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