Presentations focus on trees, shrubs

Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Rolling and unrolling like decorators' carpet samples the soft white snow exposes and conceals our landscape. Some unseen artist waving a wand performs feats of climatic legerdemain and mud turns to plush, then to glass, then to slush and mud again. Technicolor winter, but really only two colors.

David Lendrum is a master gardener and owner of Landscape Alaska. Responses or questions can be sent to

No complaints from me though. It held while we had to do the difficult work of moving all the plants off the old site, which will be a bank this spring, onto a holding area while we search for a solution. Thanks to all that responded to my plea for help finding homes for the orphans. I hope they all do well in their new homes.

This month will be the beginning of the next season, the planning and designing, the seeking and searching and all the hoping. We will be looking at thousands of colored pictures, comparing new blossoms and exciting shapes and colors as the orders go out and the confirmations come in. We also are getting the special orders from people who want just the right tree or rhododendron for their spaces. Those who have a project that is going to need some careful design work to make sure that the water flows towards the street and not under the house are comparing elevations and making drainage plans. New fences and walkways, expanded decks and porch widening, new stairs and a small greenhouse for the back yard, are all being drawn, estimated and bid. It may look like the depths of winter, but the sprout of the new year is growing towards the surface.

One way to participate in the emergence of the new year is to attend one of the interesting sessions that are being presented this month. The Juneau Tree Committee is bringing Cass Turnbull to Juneau. She is the founder of a pruning group called "Plant Amnesty." This society helps communities develop desirable landscapes by teaching pruning theory and techniques. They focus on trees and shrubs that are often mistreated, and shows how every stage of plant growth can be managed for the future, so the resulting growth will give a safe, beautiful result at the least cost and effort.

She will be presenting a slide show at 7 p.m. next Wednesday, Feb. 5, at the Bill Ray Center. I've seen her presentations several times and they are well worth the $5 admission. She is funny, articulate and very informative.

Tonight the Mendenhall Watershed Partnership is offering another type of program at the Lake Room in Mourant Hall at the University Of Alaska Southeast. That is the newly redecorated dining hall at the far end of the campus, looking out over the lake. Cathy Connors, professor of geology, will be talking about her work along the Mendenhall Glacier. This will be a fascinating look at our own backyard through the eyes of one of our most perceptive scientists. This meeting will be held from 7 to 9 p.m., and will include a chance to join this group, meet the new boardmembers and discuss some of the habitat restoration work they do.

For the far ranging, it will also be the week of the Alaska Polar Grower conference in Fairbanks. Greenhouse growers, landscapers, nursery people and native plant growers will all be swapping tales and revealing new discoveries. It will be held in the Riverside Lodge, and will run Thursday and Friday.

Most of us will still be at home, planning our own projects. Looking out at the landscape as it changes once again, and the shapes emerge from the swaddling effects of two feet of snow. It will also be filled with the shuddering sounds of snow sliding off roofs and trees. If you are one of those gardeners who have precious rhodies planted where they will get crushed, you might think about some pre-emptive snow removal, managing the slush instead of just watching it crush your babies.

We have a couple of those exotic weeping European Larch Trees in big boxes, and Margaret always treats them as if they are her delicate little treasures. She props them up with poles and carefully shakes the heavy snow of their branches so they won't crack under the ice loads. It may be excessive, or it may be a reasonable precaution. When one thinks of the decades it has taken for them to get to this stage, it would be a tragedy if a moment's inattention destroyed something so lovely.

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