Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

Archives for April 17, 2017

Solstice Alignments Discovered in ‘Peter Pan’ Gardens

The pathways of the “Peter Pan” gardens in front of Kensington Palace in London were designed to align with the rising sun during the summer and winter solstices, a researcher had found.

Amelia Carolina Sparavigna, a physics professor at the Politecnico di Torino in Italy, discovered the alignments using a combination of satellite imagery and astronomical software.

British monarchs have used Kensington Palace as a residence since 1689; today, it’s home to Prince William, his wife, Catherine Middleton, and their children, as well as Prince Harry and several other members of the royal family. [In Photos: Peru Pyramid Shows Solstice Alignment]

The gardens in front of the palace, which encompass 265 acres (107 hectares) of land, gained literary fame in the early 20th century when author J.M. Barrie used the palace gardens in his short story “Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens,” published as part of the book ‘”The Little White Bird” (Hodder Stoughton, 1902). In the short story, Kensington Gardens is the home of Peter Pan, the boy who never grows up. In later tales, Peter Pan escapes to a place called Neverland. A statue of Peter Pan was erected in the gardens in 1912. 

Kensington gardens contains a sizable pond called the Round Pond, which has a circular pathway around it. This circular pathway connects to several other paths that lead to other areas of the gardens.

Kensington Gardens, located in front of Kensington Palace (seen at far left) in London.

Credit: Google Earth

“In the case of the Kensington Gardens, we [found] that one of the main avenues, radiating out from the circle around the pond, is oriented along the sunrise on the summer solstice,” wrote Sparavigna in her paper. The gardens also have “another avenue [that] is oriented along the sunrise on the winter solstice.” Sparavigna published a few diagrams that illustrate these solstice alignments.

The summer solstice (which will next occur on June 21, 2017) is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, when the sun appears at its highest point in the sky. The winter solstice (which will next occur on Dec. 21, 2017) occurs when the sun is at its lowest point in the sky.

It’s not certain if somebody, today, might be able to easily observe these alignments from the ground. Sparavigna said that her study of the satellite images and photographs of the gardens doesn’t show any buildings that block the paths that align with the summer solstice; however, pictures show that trees on the path may make it difficult to observe.

Additionally, the gardens open at 6 a.m. local time, according to the official website for Kensington Palace. During the summer solstice, the sunrise occurs before that time. It’s also not clear if the path’s alignment with the rising winter solstice sun could be observed from the ground.

Recent research reveals an alignment that occurs between a large pathway in the garden and sunrise on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.

Credit: Courtesy of Amelia Carolina Sparavigna

Garden designer Charles Bridgeman is credited with designing the modern-day layout of the gardens, creating the current design in 1728, according to the Kensington Palace website. Sparavigna analyzed a drawing of the gardens from 1754 and found that the design of the gardens at that time is about the same as the design that exists today.

It’s not known why some avenues in Kensington Gardens have these solstice alignments, but Sparavigna thinks that they were created intentionally, possibly for symbolic purposes. “The architects planned the gardens, including two references to the apparent path of the sun, through the sunrise on solstices,” she wrote in her paper, which is published online on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN), a site that disseminates scholarly research before it is published in an academic journal.

She told Live Science in an email that she thinks that the solstice alignments were created “for symbolic meaning, not for practical reasons,” although what symbolic meaning they had is unclear, Sparavigna told Live Science in an email.

Sparavigna has studied several other gardens for solar alignments over the past few years and, in 2015, published a paper detailing solstice alignments found in the gardens of the Taj Mahal. In 2016, she also found alignments in a garden located near the White House in Washington, D.C.

The growing availability of high-resolution satellite imagery, as well as the development of astronomical software that can rapidly perform analysis of this imagery, has made it much easier, and cheaper, to analyze gardens and archaeological sites for solar alignments, Sparavigna has told Live Science in previous interviews.

Original article on Live Science.

Article source: http://www.livescience.com/58706-solstice-alignments-discovered-peter-pan-gardens.html

Mike Croxall: 7 Simple Ways To Boost Curb Appeal

Springtime in Chattanooga is the perfect time to invigorate your home’s façade. Even if you aren’t trying to sell your home, and merely want to spruce it up, there’s a definite benefit to enhancing and preserving your home’s curb appeal.  

Exterior upgrades consistently rank among the best home improvement projects for their strong return on investment. That’s because many of these strategies are fairly simple and relatively affordable solutions.   

But all homes are certainly not alike. While some are in need of large-scale improvements like a re-paved driveway, for example, yours might benefit most from some colorful flower beds and a fresh coat of paint.

The first step is to assess your home’s appearance, but this time, look at it from a home buyer’s perspective. Try to pretend you’re seeing it for the first time, and then make a list of which characteristics stand out immediately, and which ones you want to highlight.

To help get you started, here are some areas to evaluate:

·       Clutter – Getting rid of any excess items and lawn ornaments is a great place to start. Stow away—or consider throwing away—old furniture, bikes, knick knacks or any other personal items visible from the front yard that do not add to the aesthetic of the home.

·       Digits – Possibly the simplest project on the list is to upgrade the address numbers on your home, especially if they might be considered too small, dated or broken. Installing larger, bolder numbers can instantly make the home seem more modern.

·       Illumination – A dimly lit walkway is not only dangerous, it’s also uninviting. Pathway lighting products are available in a wide variety of designs and price ranges, but even some of the more economical options can be visually appealing at night.

·       Grime – You might think a heavy rainfall is like a shower for your home, when in fact, it’s probably only making things dirtier. Invest in (or rent) a high-powered pressure washer and give your driveway, front steps, walkways and vinyl siding a once over. You’ll be amazed by how much cleaner they can get.

·       Paint – A fresh coat of paint on the front door, garage door and window trim can make a huge difference. However, if your front door has seen a lot of use and abuse over the years and it’s beyond repair, it might be time to have it replaced. A new door can be sometimes be costly, but it’s a surefire win when it comes to instant curb appeal, especially if you select a bold color. 

·       Grass – If you’re looking to sell your home in the near future, having a well-maintained lawn is critical. The National Association of Realtors studied which outdoor features are most appealing to prospective buyers, and having a nice lawn was at the top of the list.

·       Landscaping – Before you start planting your flowers this year, go online or consult a landscape architect for some new ideas to freshen things up. One suggestion is to install flower boxes under windows, which will make your home look much more warm and welcoming.

Boosting your home’s curb appeal doesn’t have to consume all your spare time and your spare cash. While some projects are certainly bigger investments than others, some of the most effective tactics require little more than some good old-fashioned elbow grease.

For more suggestions about improving your home’s appearance, visit Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga at HBAGC.net

Article source: http://www.chattanoogan.com/2017/4/17/345353/Mike-Croxall-7-Simple-Ways-To-Boost.aspx

No business like grow business: Landscapers give early season tips

Landscaping can be more than flowers and shrubs. Some say it’s an art form.

“Since I started this business in 1984, I’ve looked at it like proper landscaping is a piece of art,” said Jerry Benton with Benton’s Landscaping and Garden Center in Henderson. “Instead of putting it on a canvas, you are putting it in the ground. So that’s what I try to achieve, basically on everything we try to do.”

Benton said the spring season is a good time to spruce up or redo landscaping, but homeowners should take time to plan the project.

“Let’s say they want to start all over again. Tear out the old and put in some new,” he said.

“Some things they need to consider: Do we go with shade loving plants or with plants that can endure sunshine and so on? Therefore we need to go with specific plant materials for those two things,” Benton said. “A lot of people make the mistake that when they create their landscape beds, instead of making them with flow and a nice interest, they have them shooting straight lines and a square. That’s a no, no.”

The dimensions and shape of the flower bed should be eye catching or create a focal point.

“That’s what you want to try to do,” Benton said.

“Another mistake some homeowners make, is when laying out their flower beds, they tend to cram that bed close to the house, instead of making it large enough for that plant to go in and develop fully,” he said. “If you cram it next to the house, what happens, is eventually the backside of that plant dies off because it can’t get any sunlight.”

“Homeowners need to understand that flower beds need to create a focal point. Usually close to the front entry so as people approach the front door there is a place that catches the eye or catches the attention,” he said. “Whether it’s using raised beds, boulders or a specimen type plant like a Japanese maple.”

Nick Luckett with Vivid Landscape and Lighting in Evansville, said a good point of interest for a flower bed or landscaping is a water feature.

His firm was at the Heritage Federal Credit Union Home Show on April 8 and 9 displaying what he called a “a very, very affordable water feature,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a giant hit.”

“We are trying to get more people into water features,” Luckett said. “It’s the perfect and instant way to spruce up anyone’s landscape. They are inexpensive and unique. A water feature can cost $500 or less and that includes the installation. I’d say over the past 10 years, some of the larger companies are going global and creating what’s almost artwork for water features. They are making them more affordable. Water features are not only affordable, but you are able to have what’s basically artwork in your yard.”

Both Benton and Luckett said a “must do” for flower beds and landscaping is the use of color.

“It kind of depends on what they already have in their flowerbeds,” Luckett said. “One of the easiest things to do to spruce up a flower bed is by adding color. A lot of people just have Evergreens or box shrubs. We like to mix it up with reds, blues and colors. We recommend adding simple perennials.”

“For myself,” Benton said, “I love using a lot of color and different textures, along with your basic foundation plants such as boxwoods. There are numerous ornamental grasses you can use and drift roses make a nice look because they only get a few feet tall and spread out. That creates an interest other than using just basic plants. You create a piece of art, instead of just having five bushes across the front of the house.”

While colorful plants are a nice touch, they have to be cared for, he said.

“People have a misunderstanding that if they plant in early spring or in fall, then they don’t have to water those things as much,” Benton said. “That’s not true. Especially during the first season after something has been planted. There’s not a perfect season because you are still going to have to maintain your plant. You don’t walk off and leave it, but a lot of people think you do.”

“Another misconception, is everybody is looking for that maintenance-free plant, but it doesn’t exist,” he said. “All plants need a small amount of maintenance, unless you go with silk or plastic. That’s why you see all of these plastic flowers in pots.”

A spring tip for enthusiastic gardeners, Benton said, is to “hold off at least until after April 15 because that generally tells us that the last killing frost is over.”

So now, it’s officially a go. Get out there and plant.

Whatever type of landscaping is done, it can be a reflection of the homeowner’s personality.

“We will help homeowners by giving advice if they want it,” Benton said. “We have some people bring in pictures of their home. We discuss things and what plants or landscaping ideas I think will work out for them. So we try to help out as much as we can.”

“We work to fit the style of the clients,” Luckett said. “We try to do something different in that we offer more custom-design landscaping that’s more affordable.”

Article source: http://www.thegleaner.com/story/news/2017/04/17/no-business-like-grow-business-landscapers-give-early-season-tips/99486024/

Growing an idea

On Sept. 11, 2001, Justin Rohner and his wife, Britney, bought their first house. However, despite it being their house, the events on that date made it feel insignificant.“It didn’t feel safe,” Rohner says. “Nothing felt safe.”

The couple wanted to put in a vegetable garden – a way to provide them with comfort and food security. However, the new house was part of a very strict home owner’s association, and the association wasn’t keen on them growing food in the front yard.

“I wanted to find a way to still grow food where, not only would they be OK with it, they’d actually like it,” Rohner says. He wanted a way for the food to be part of the landscape, instead of just a square garden in the center of the yard.

And the idea for Agriscaping was born. The company, based in Gilbert, Arizona, now offers technology and education on edible landscapes for both contractors and homeowners.

“In 2009, I started teaching at local nurseries in the Phoenix area,” Rohner says. “That’s when we started realizing this isn’t just a thing for me. People really want to grow more food and grow it more elegantly so they can do it where they live and not look like a farm.”

Rohner and his team were given the opportunity to install edible gardens in a local municipality’s firehouses in 2013, but the municipality couldn’t release a request for proposal because Agriscaping was the only company to submit a bid, and rules state the municipality has to receive multiple bids before accepting one. The incident sparked the company to make a shift in its setup.

Instead of being a company making bids and installing the landscapes, Agriscaping now helps other companies learn how to do it by training and certifying them.

“Business and demand is growing but we need pros to send that business to,” he says.

Landscapers can apply to the training programs and the company can connect them to new work.

“Right now, we’ve got pros that are training or are trained in 24 states,” Rohner says, adding that people in France, Mexico and Canada also signed up. Several hundred landscapers have been through the program, with thousands more signing up for the company’s free webinar series.

Tylee Sewell, owner and designer at Tasty Spaces, has been working with the Agriscaping team and is currently enrolled in the online training class Rohner offers.

She says the designs give homes curb appeal and make the landscapes eye-catching, but also provide more than that.

“It uses the element of making it beautiful, but you’re using edible foods,” she says.

Sewell says she was drawn to the idea because it gets people outside more and helps them understand where food comes from.

It also gives homeowners the opportunity to make their landscapes profitable, Rohner says.

“People are actually making money off their yard because of the extra food they’ve got,” Rohner says. “Now we have another network system set up so they can sign up and sell their excess production.”

Digital direction.

The company has an app that provides planting and harvesting directions.

“We’ve been researching microclimates and standardizing them into six different microclimates,” Rohner says.

Almost all of Rohner’s yard has edible plants that produce food, including tomatoes, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and many others.

Using that information, homeowners and landscapers will know what works best for each part of the yard, especially since one yard can be made up of multiple microclimates, depending on sun exposure.

In 2017, the Agriscaping app will be updated to include more information on microclimates, as well as a direct link to locally certified pros for homeowners who have questions.

Agriscaping has partnered with Ewing Landscape Materials, as well as Mother Earth News and the Grow Network. “Between those three organizations, the new app will be able to open up to more professionals,” Rohner says.

In an effort to attract more professionals in each state, Agriscaping will be doing tours in the spring to launch the app on a larger scale and make the technology available to more people across the country.

The company has also been working with chefs.

“They’ve been creating these great recipes on seasonal foods,” Rohner says. “The app will know what’s supposed to (be) harvested soon and it’ll give you recipe suggestions.”

Article source: http://www.lawnandlandscape.com/article/growing-an-idea/

Seasonal Maintenance A Year-Round Responsibility

Building maintenance follows a schedule based on the seasons, each of which presents a unique set of challenges to a co-op or condo. At certain times of the year, it just makes sense to do certain regular maintenance projects: weatherizing, boiler maintenance, winterizing gardens and landscaping in the fall; cleaning, repainting, pruning, and switching off the heating machinery in the spring, and so forth. 

But while this seems straightforward, and while it’s true that there are plenty of seasonal tasks that can be done safely, effectively, and economically by in-house staff members, smart boards know when to hire professionals to do a job. When it comes to the delicate, often complex matter of caring for a community’s landscaping elements – be they decades-old trees, extensive flowerbeds, or even just a few planters out front, “The rookie mistake is hiring a rookie,” says David Protell, president of Chelsea Garden Center Inc., in Brooklyn. “What happens is, somebody’s reading Southern Living, and they have no clue what they’re doing, and you end up good-willed, and good natured, but ill-advised.”

Money may not grow on trees, but neglected trees (and shrubs, and flowers) can certainly cost a great deal of money to rehabilitate or replace. That’s why it’s crucial that boards have at least a passing knowledge of seasonal landscape maintenance, and engage the right professionals to support their own in-house staff in holding to a sensible, well-informed schedule. 

Spring

Spring is when nature emerges from the winter chill, when flowers bloom, when leaves return to the trees, and when the birds, the bees and the bugs come out in full force.

Even if you’re not a landscaping pro, “It’s pretty obvious that you want to do most kinds of planting in the spring,” says Christy Webber, president of Christy Webber Landscapes in Chicago. “Spring is when you want to get any kind of seed down, once the soil temperatures are warm. Seed is about sunshine and warmth of soil. Any time after April… but into June, it’s almost too late to try to germinate any seed. You can pay for it, but good luck. With no supplemental spring rain to help you along with your watering, your chances [of successful growth] are slim.”

Article source: https://cooperator.com/article/seasonal-maintenance

How Gardening can benefit your health

We all depend on the wide range of essential benefits that nature provides us. From the air we breathe in our day to day existence to the food we eat and the soil we walk on, we’re always in tight connection with nature, but we often tend to forget that. With the rise of industry and the rapid growth of technology, we have distanced ourselves from nature and we’ve become so preoccupied with our modern life that we often neglect our connection to it. Studies have shown that access to nature not only improves our mental health but also helps fight obesity — the positive impact of interaction with nature has moved way past anecdotal evidence and it’s pretty much established in science and medical practice.

gardening health

Gardening can boost your mood and your health. Image via Max Pixel.

However, it’s not always clear what “reconnecting with nature” means. Is it a walk in the park? A trip to the mountains? How often do you have to do it for it to work, and what does ‘work’ even mean here? Well, rather than thinking of nature in an abstract way, we can learn to renew our relationship with nature by picking up a hobby: gardening. Gardening and landscaping are relaxing and soothing, but they can also be taken as seriously as launching a new startup. It’s your choice how much you want to get involved.

How to get started

If you have a garden, then it’s ideal. You’ve got natural soil and natural conditions and you’re pretty much set to go. You might have to renew the earth or use some fertilizer if it’s run down. If you live in an apartment, you can also make it work — absolutely no problem. You just have to do a bit more planning for the plant arrangement. Flower pots are a life saver, and they come in a great variety of shapes and sizes, pick some which are good for you.

You can have a small garden even if you live in an apartment. Image credits: PROSuzette.

The next thing to do is get some seeds — which again, should be really no problem. Every city, town, and village has specialized shops, and you can often find seeds in some general or hardware shops as well. The internet is also your friend if you want more choices. It’s easy to do with a variety of seeds — lawn seeds, pasture seeds, wildflower seeds, or specialty seeds — you just need to think what you want to do. Is it nice flowers that attract you, or would you like to grow some delicious herbs? You can, for instance, grow turf grass to renew a barren front or backyard or plant wildflower seeds to make any bleak landscape look beautiful again. Follow the instructions on the pack and keep things as simple as possible.

Benefits of gardening

Gardening and landscaping renew our spirit. We become aware of the fresh breeze blowing through our hair, the sun against the skin, and the texture of earth and plants. For a refreshing moment, we stop trying to solve problems and figure everything out. Here are a few benefits to consider:

Relax and de-stress

As mentioned above, the biggest advantage is for yourself — it’s a great way to relax and get rid of all the stress in our day to day life while maintaining a good connection to nature, something which has been proven beneficial time and time again. Instead of going out in nature, you have a way of bringing nature inside your home

Contribution to the ecosystem

Communal gardens are popular in some parts of the world. Image credits: Symi81.

In our own humble way, we are renewing the cycles of nature and gently prodding the natural world along. For instance, when we grow flowers, honeybees benefit from them and we benefit from the honey. Gardening benefits the earth in a wide number of ways. For instance, plants act as air cleaners, absorbing carbon dioxide and air pollutants, releasing oxygen. Additionally, plants hold soil in place, thus reducing erosion.

Fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs

This works especially if you have a garden, although you can grow delicious (and lots) of herbs in an apartment as well. If you’re into eating healthy foods, the freshest source of foods won’t come from your neighboring grocery store or even your local farmer’s market but from your own garden. Instead of going shopping in the fall, imagine getting squash, pumpkins, cranberries, and apples from your own garden. Imagine using your own freshly picked herbs in your cooking. And imagine serving up a delicious salad at a family dinner with garlic, tomatoes, cabbage, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, and kale from your own garden. You won’t feed yourself constantly, but you’ll have a delicious addition to any meal.

Gentle exercise

While gardening can’t be compared to the stylized exercise we get from weight lifting or yoga, it does provide a considerable range of exercise that kept our ancestors healthy. You’ll be building your muscles and stretching as you dig and rake and lift in the course of maintaining your garden. In addition, you’ll be building strong hands. As we get older, we tend to lose flexibility and dexterity and also feel more inclined to do sedentary things. Gardening is a gentle form of physical rehabilitation.

Fresh air and sunshine

Image via Public Domain Pictures.

We spend most of our time indoors, either working in an office or pottering around the house, and if you know that you have to look after your garden, you are more inclined to go outside. When you are watering your plants, pulling up weeds, or digging up the soil to plant some seeds, you are getting fresh air to oxygenate your body and plenty of Vitamin D from the sunshine. According to an article on Vitamin D and Health from the Harvard TH Chan School of School of Public Health, “A promising report in the  Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that taking vitamin D supplements may even reduce overall mortality rates: A combined analysis of multiple studies found that taking modest levels of vitamin D supplements was associated with a statistically significant 7 percent reduction in mortality from any cause.”

Learn a new skill

Gardening is definitely one of the more useful skills you can learn, and it’s one which you can apply throughout your entire life, in a variety of conditions. It’s easy to do and rewarding, it’s good for you and the environment. Why not give it a try?

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2017 ZME Science

ZME Science newsletterBlasts off every weekday to more than 35,000 subscribers.

Article source: http://www.zmescience.com/other/offbeat-other/gardening-for-your-health/

More power to pink

Think pink and you think of girlie girls and Barbies and if you are a Dilliwala, the women’s coach in the Metro. But pink is no longer just the quintessential girlie hue. As beauty blogger and freelance writer Caitlin Agnew reports, there’s a new generation that is bent on adding its own spin to the shade, taking it away from the image of being a tweensy tint.

It’s the new look-at-me colour for fashionistas, as ‘pinkissimo’ is the latest hair colour that’s trending. Now it’s found a home in your home, and not just by way of your li’l girl’s room.

Kiss from a rose

Homes are looking a lot rosier than ever before. From gold rose to crisp rose, it’s the shade that’s caught everyone’s fancy in interiors. Carpets, ceilings, furniture are all getting a surge of pink power. Trend forecaster interior designer Sasha Bikoff, predicts 2017 will be about pink interiors. Interior expert Manjeet Bhullar says, “Pink is having a huge moment. We will witness it being used a lot in living rooms for vibrancy.”

Here’s why? Pink hues add a serene and sophisticated glow to any home interior. From pink rugs to daring pink pops by way of thingamajigs adds a vibrant mood to the home. Design expert Karim Rashid, who loves working with pink, says, “There’s nothing more new-age than pink interiors right now. It is energetic and engaging. There’s a shade of pink for every mood, every person. It’s an optimistic colour.”

Think pink

The colour is finding favour with a diverse set. From fashion shows where catwalk carpeting has turned pink to lifestyle products like Raden luggages and Le Creuset Dutch ovens. Even in the restaurant world, Toronto’s Oretta and Piano Piano both boast selfie-ready pink walls. The 2017 edition of the famous lifestyle, decoration and design trade fair Maison et Objet predicted pink as the hot colour. It reported: “Pink is the perfect colour to sweeten all those dark and muted colours which are a trend at present, like blues, greens, greys.”

Interior design expert Janice Lindsay and author of All About Colour, claims that we are having a pink moment in interiors. She says, “The world is really opening up to colour and its power to make the ordinary special. Pink also brings in an emotional and spiritual connect to your homes. It’s healing.”

Article source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/home-garden/more-power-to-pink/articleshow/58161087.cms

Garden Tips: Winter burn showing up on local evergreens – Tri

Have you been noticing brown leaves and needles on some evergreens in area landscapes? Many of these are located where they could not possibly be victims of the injury caused by deicing salts that we discussed several weeks ago. The likely cause of the brown leaves and needles on these evergreens, particularly on boxwood, holly, cherry laurel, rhododendron and evergreen euonymus, is winter burn.

Winter burn, also referred to as winter dessication, occurs in frigid weather when the soil is frozen, making the water in the soil unavailable to plants. This is bad news for evergreens because they continue to lose moisture through their leaves and needles during freezing weather.

Because they can not replace that moisture, evergreen leaf tissues become desiccated, die, and turn brown. Typically this damage shows up as the browning of entire leaves and needles or, when less severe, browning of leaf edges and needle tips. Severe winter burn can also cause twig and branch dieback.

Environmental factors contribute to the severity of winter burn. Damage will generally be more severe where water loss is the greatest, such as on the side of a plant more exposed to wind or direct sun. Damage can also be more severe if the plant was already drought stressed at winter’s onset.

Cultural factors predispose a plant to winter burn. Evergreens with restricted or girdling roots that limit the uptake of water; recently planted plants without adequate root systems; or plants planted too deep are more likely to suffer winter burn damage. Plants weakened by drought, insect or disease are also more vulnerable to damage.

What can you do to help plants suffering from winter burn? Do not rush to prune off branches and twigs with brown leaves or needles. New growth may develop if the buds and stems are not dead. To tell if a branch or twig is alive, use your fingernail or the edge of a pocket knife to gently scrap under the bark to look for signs of green tissue. Prune off the portions that are obviously dead. If you see green tissue, wait to continue pruning so that latent buds have a chance to grow.

We cannot easily predict when our area will experience another winter when the weather stays severely cold for a long period of time. However, there are some steps you should take to help minimize potential winter burn and promote healthy landscape plants.

1. Select plants that are not prone to winter burn. Recalling past severely cold winters, I typically advise against planting boxwood, holly, cherry laurel and evergreen euonymus because of their vulnerability to winter burn.

2. Water evergreens, especially those planted within the last two years, properly through the entire growing season and also during mild fall and winter weather when the soil is dry. Check the soil periodically to determine moisture levels. Keep in mind that fog and light rain typically do not provide enough water to keep the soil moist.

3. Mulch plants with a 3- to 4-inch layer of shredded bark or wood chip mulch to conserve soil moisture.

4. When placing new plants, avoid planting broadleaf evergreens where they will be subject to winter winds and sun.

5. Refrain from planting evergreens in late fall when they will not have time to develop adequate roots before cold weather arrives.

6. Protect existing plants from drying winds by placing a screen of lath fencing or burlap two feet away from the plant on the windward side.

Marianne C. Ophardt is a retired horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.

Article source: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/living/home-garden/marianne-ophardt/article144759544.html