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BEST OF THE BUNCH - Dogwood (Cornus) THE vibrant stems of dogwood, in shades of vivid red through to deep yellow, provide a touch of drama to the winter garden. Some carry variegated leaves and all are easy to grow, but the one rule of thumb is that you must hard-prune them each spring.

Cornus alba is a great red-bark variety, its new stems produced each spring forming a thicket which spreads each year. C. alba 'Sibirica' will give you really right stems, while C. alba 'Elegantissima' bears white edged leaves and C. stolonifera 'Flaviramea' produces yellow stems and looks effective grown against a red-bark variety. Cornus will grow in virtually any garden soil, in sun or partial shade. Prune back to a few inches above ground level in spring.

GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT - Pruning standard apple trees NOW is the time to prune your standard apple trees to keep them in shape, allow in more light and reduce the amount of fruit they carry, which will result in larger, tastier, better quality fruits. Leave them unpruned and you may get more fruit, but the apples will probably be smaller and sharper tasting because of delayed ripening.

To prune a standard tree effectively, use sharp secateurs or loppers and a pruning saw for thicker branches. The shape should be like a wine glass, with the trunk as the stem of the glass. If cutting off large branches, cut them firstly around 45cm from the base then saw the stump off cleanly beyond the swollen collar at the bottom of the branch.

When pruning shoots, cut them right back to the thicker branch they are growing out of, and try to make the cut as flush to the branch as possible so there are no bits jutting out which could harbour disease.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jan 9, 2014
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