neighborhood garden for april 17, 2003


(To answer this question we have invited our first guest to THE NEIGHBORHOOD GARDEN.  Our guest gardener is Corey Brabec, manager of the Earl May Nursery and Garden Center at 100 Wedgewood Drive in Lincoln.  Corey is a native Nebraskan and a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a degree in Horticulture.)

my favorite trees

When I think of Nebraska and shade trees, I think of the White Oak.  This tree is tolerant of clay soils, and seems to do well in our irrigated lawns.

With a moderate growth rate, we will see shade develop in a short time, and still have the advantage of a strong tree to tolerate weather conditions.  The long life of this tree insures a tree for generations.

When young, the tree is pyramidal in shape. At maturity the tree will develop a broad crown.  The branching structure is irregular, giving the tree an interesting shape.

The fall color is a special treat.  The red and purple fall foliage is long lasting, giving us a long fall season.

When selecting an ornamental tree for our landscape, many trees require certain site requirements.  Many require protection from the Nebraska weather, and disease problems can crop up.

However, the Prairifire Flowering crab is a tree that could have been developed just for us. 

Disease resistant and heat loving, this hardy midsize tree will provide interest throughout the entire year.

New leaves are purple and turn green with a red tint as the season goes on.  Flowers are red with a pink cast.  The fruit is dark red and glassy.  The fruit stays on the tree providing fall color.  You won’t find these apples making a mess under the tree.  All winter you will see very attractive reddish brown bark, while the birds will flock to the fruit. 

White Oak and Prairifire Crab, two of my favorite trees. (Corey Brabec)

          For more information about trees send a self addressed stamped envelope (SASE) to Lancaster County Extension Office at 444 Cherrycreek Road, Lincoln, NE 68528-1507 and ask for UNFACTS # 282-97 “Landscape Trees for Lancaster County”. UNFACTS are not available on the internet.

The National Arbor Day Foundation’s Web site ( has a list of trees, description, and hardiness zones.  The Nebraska Statewide Arboretum also has a good web site on trees (

my forsythia bush has been beautiful this spring but too large.  when do i prune it back?

Most spring flowering shrubs like forsythia, lilac, flowering almond, Bridal Wreath spirea, etc. can and should be pruned just after they get done flowering.  You have a four week window to prune.  After that they begin setting flower buds and any pruning will be removing flowers for next year.

The best way to prune these bushes is to prune out 1/3rd to 1/4th of the biggest, oldest canes all the way to the ground.  This will open up the plant and let the bush develop new growth.  In four (4) years you will have a new healthy bush. This pruning is necessary to keep it blooming as the flowers usually come on the ends of the branches.

After you have taken out these biggest, oldest canes, if you want to shape your bush or shorten it a little more, do this after removing these old canes. (George)