By DOTTIE DEWBERRY
For Starkville Daily News
The historic home of the late Jimmy Thomas was the beautiful setting for the November meeting of the Maben Home and Garden Club on Nov. 15 at noon.
The ladies gathered on the front veranda of Gladys Hendrix’s home; they chatted happily and awaited there for all those to attend to finally arrive.
Russell Hamilton, nursery manager of the Oktibbeha County Co-op of Starkville, who arrived with Ms. Dottie Dewberry, the afternoon leader, was the guest speaker for the occasion. Hamilton spoke at length about “Things to do to get ready for spring.” Preceding his address, he handed out several pages pertaining to getting ready for spring, pruning crape myrtles, and a sign-up sheet for the Co-op’s newsletter.
Getting right into his speech, Hamilton emphasized a number of things about pruning: prune only when it is in late winter but prune spring flowering- shrubs immediately after they bloom, use the handout guide for pruning crape myrtles-don’t commit crape murder, and thin out inner growth of Bradford pear trees.
A tip that most of the ladies had never heard was about using pine straw for mulch: if you are using it on small shrubs or trees, the straw needs to sit for 12 weeks before applying it.
It is time to plant or transplant bulbs, trees, and shrubs, mulch existing beds, water before frosts or freezing temperatures, prepare new beds now, prune trees or shrubs, apply pre-emergents, rake leaves, prune roses in January, winterize your irrigation systems, and roll and hang hoses in a dry shady place or they will dry rot.
To the chagrin or shame of those who had committed crape murder, Hamilton went to great detail about when and how to prune these beauties of the South. First, do not top them now; the time to do pruning is in late winter or early spring. Cut the suckers that come up from the base; cut all side branches growing from the trunk up to 4 feet from the ground; cut out branches growing toward the center; cut all crossing, rubbing, and dead branches, and cut any branches growing at awkward angles.
He explained that if you “top” crapes, it increases stem decay; reduces number of blooms, shortens the blooming period; causes new branches to grow too long and are not able to hold up the blooms; increases insect problems; and causes them to produce more basal suckers.
When questioned about how to correct crape murder, the best solution was to cut below the knot of cut-off limbs. Another solution might be to cut them down to the ground and wait for new trunks to grow.
He said that YouTube had a video put out by the MSU Extension Service that showed a step by step guide for pruning crapes.
Hamilton told the group that some of the better products for weed control was no more, but he offered a product for turf and ornamental weed and grass stopper, a product for feeding bulbs, and a product when transplanting plants.
One of his best bits of advice was how to kill stumps: make a fresh cut, drill holes in the middle of the stump, and the fill with Round Up.
Before he ended his most informative talk, he presented little sacks of bulbs to all those present. He then had the ladies draw for a bowl that the winner could pick up at the Co-op. June Turner was the lucky winner.
After the program, the minutes were read and approved as read. Jackie Christopher reviewed the club’s financials. The Yard of the Month Committee reported that the sign had been placed in the home of Jonelle Nickles for October and then was placed in the home of Randle Poss for November.
Sandra Bishop reported that Marge Musser sent word that the calendars were ordered, the print would be in red and would be in larger type.
The Sunshine Committee reported that a Memorial tree, a Little Gem Magnolia, had been ordered and would soon be planted at the First Baptist Church for lifelong member Cotton Sanders. A Memorial marker will also be placed there.
Members who had not paid dues were reminded it was time to do so.
The Dec. 13 meeting will be held at the Heritage House in Mathiston with Gail Bullard as quest speaker. Members were urged to bring an ornament for playing Dirty Santa.
The afternoon door prizes were given by Anne Earnest and Sandra Bishop. They were won by Suretha Brooks, Opal Vickers (guest) and June Turner.