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Bare-root shopping for shade trees, flowering trees and shrubs.

If garden landscaping was one of your New Year's resolutions, January isn't too early to get a good start in the West's mild-winter, low-elevation climates. At nurseries that stock bare-root fruit trees and berry vines, you'll find a surprising variety of deciduous landscaping plants--shade trees, flowering ornamental trees and shrubs, and a few fast-growing vines--at bargain prices.

Some of the best values are fast-growing deciduous shade trees such as alder, birgh, fruitless mulberry, and willow. As bareroot, field-grown trees, they've had a chance to develop strong soot systems and good branching structure.

A large tree like a sycamore may sell for $10 to $15; a comparable one grown in a container could cost $40 to $50. Other landscape choices include:

Shade trees. Several kinds of ash, box elder, catalpa, cottonwood, elm, golden-rain tree, hackberry, honey locust, Japanese pagoda tree, London plane tree, maple, poplar, and zelkova.

Spring flowring trees. Flowring (non-fruiting) apricot, cherry, nectarine, peach, and plum (both weeping and regular kinds); crabapple, hawthorn, ornamental pears such as 'Aristocrat' and 'Bradford', and redbud.

Flowering shrubs and vines. Rose of Sharon, flowering almond, forsythia, Japanese quince, lilac, pomegranate, spiraea, and wisteria in both vine and tree forms.

Not all nurseries stock bare-root trees and shrubs, but if you're buying a quantity of plants for a hedge, a row of trees, or a grove, it can be worth calling around to find ones that do. At the nursery

Traditionally, bare-root plants are held in bins or piles of moist sawdust or shavings. Some nurseries place them in individual fiber pots; you have the option to buy the pot or not. After you select the plant, a qualified nurseryman will check the roots and trim any broken ones, then wrap the roots with moist sawdust and paper or with plastic bags to keep them fresh.

Most bare-root ornamentals have been shaped as they grow in the field and generally don't need much top pruning at this point. You nurseryman, though, can be gin structural pruning for the shape you want. He'll ask you if you want the tree to branch high or low, if you want to walk under it, or if you want it to stay as tall as possible. It helps if you think ahead; for ideas, consult the Sunset Pruning Book. When plants come home

Plant as soon as possible. Ideally, you should wait for a clear day, dig the hole, and to to the nursery, then put plants into the ground as soon as you get home. You can keep a plant in its nursery wrapping briefly, but if stormy weather means waiting several days, unwrap the roots and cover them with damp potting soil or shavings in a frost-protected area. Roots are more tender than tops and can be hurt at temperatures lower than about 30 degrees; covering the roots helps keep them moist and insulated.

Just before you plant, soak the roots thoroughly so soil will cling to them without leaving air pockets. One wood watering after planting is usually all plants need until they bud out and start to grow; ains usually do the rest. Don't water again if soil is still moist an inch or so below the surface. In desert areas where the air is dry, it's good to mist the branches until they show signs of spring growth.
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Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:Jan 1, 1984
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