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Tis the season to get busy in the garden
Ron Hoffman, owner of Morris Nursery in Riverbank, demonstrates a new gentler and kinder rake for garden use by passing it over his arm. The rake, he said, is strong enough to gather the dry leaves but soft enough not to injure the flowers. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

‘Tis pruning time for cherries and plums, peaches, pluots, and pears in the garden.

That goes for other fruit trees as well. By giving them a careful haircut this year, the trees will thank you next year with fresh springtime flowers and bigger fruits in the summer.

That was just one of the messages brought by Ron Hoffman, owner of Morris Nursery in Riverbank, to members of the Manteca Garden Club and guests Monday at the Manteca Public Library where their monthly meeting was held.

The exceptions when it comes to pruning are citrus trees which don’t really need this annual primping because the tree will need all the branches including the new ones for next year’s fruits. However, Hoffman said that if your citrus trees have developed suckers around their trunks complete with thorns that are sometimes several centimeters long – these types of trees are notorious for that, he said – go ahead “and remove those suckers. You don’t want to wait until they get tall.”

While cherries, plums, pears and cherries “need heavy pruning,” it’s the opposite when it comes to figs and pomegranates. These need “rarely, if any pruning,” said Hoffman who described the pomegranate as “a nice ornamental tree.” Olive trees also need only be pruned for shape, he said.

With a lot of planting going on in the fall, Hoffman also brought samples of new plant varieties and why they are improvements from earlier ones. He showed, for example, a trio of potted lilac called Bloomerang, so-called because this variety of new lilac will immediately re-bloom after the first flush of flowers in the spring.

“It’s a plant that makes a lot of scents” and will grow up to four or five feet, said the nurseryman with a penchant for puns.

All you have to do to coax the second set of blooms is to cut the spent blooms just a few inches below where the first flowers grew.

He also brought several potted samples of Tequila Sunrise, an eye-catching and sun-loving “accent and showpiece plant.” At maturity, this colorful plant will grow up to three- by five-foot across. This plant “definitely” needs a sunny place in the garden, Hoffman explained. Planted in a shady spot, the Tequila Sunrise will “lose half of its color,” he said. It also makes a nice container plant, he added.

Worried about losing your plants in winter’s deep freeze? Hoffman said there’s a new product now available called FreezePruf which improves plants’ freeze tolerance down to 2 and even nine degrees. FreezePruf protects the plant both inside and out by enhancing its natural “anti-freeze”-like properties and therefore its ability to survive the cold elements.

And, proving once again the old adage that necessity is the mother of invention, Hoffman showed the latest gardener’s gadget for convenience called the “Hollow Leg,” a contraption that acts like a third leg, except this extra appendage can be used as a container for small pruned branches or deadheaded flowers, for example.

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