The calendar says January, but the weather for the last few weeks has been screaming March.The unseasonable warmth means a lot of folks are getting in their yards, looking for something to keep them outdoors a little longer. It’s the perfect time to prune summer-blooming shrubs and trees like crape myrtles and tea olives.There’s no one-size-fits-all pruning rule; it’s as much a science as it is an art. There are, however, some basic techniques that can help novice gardeners avoid mistakes that can cause their shrubs lasting damage.”The keys to proper pruning are timing, technique and the right equipment,” said Bob Westerfield, a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension horticulturist.Go slow, be selective and don’t prune angry.It can be cathartic to start lopping off tree limbs left and right, but pruning is not the time to work out your anger issues. Gardeners need to know what to prune and what to leave alone until spring.The time to prune summer-blooming plants and most woody ornamentals is January through early March. These include:BeautyberryCamelliaChaste tree (Vitex)Cranberrybush (Viburnum)Crape myrtleFloribunda rosesFragrant tea oliveGlossy abeliaGoldenrain treeGrandiflora rosesJapanese barberryJapanese spireaMimosaNandinaRose of Sharon (Althea)Sourwood‘Anthony Waterer’ spireaSweetshrubYou need to prune spring-flowering plants like azalea, forsythia and dogwood soon after they bloom.”Of course, if you see dead plant material, you can prune that off any time of year,” Westerfield said.Pruning is often necessary for your plants’ health. It’s a way to remove disease and keep your plants looking good. It can also rejuvenate older, overgrown shrubs.Proper tools are a key to successful pruning.”Steer away from gas-powered pruners,” Westerfield said. “Hand-operated shears work wonderfully as long as you keep your instruments sharp so they cut the plant instead of tearing it.”Hand pruners are perhaps your most essential pruning tool.”Buy the best quality you can afford and you won’t have to keep going back to the store for a new pair every year,” he said. “The draw-cut, or scissor, type is the most useful.”The anvil-type hard pruners tend to crush limbs rather than cut them.Use lopping shears to prune small trees or shrubs, like crape myrtles, with a branch diameter of up to 1.5 inches. For plants with branches more than 2 inches thick, use a pruning saw.Heading or thinningNow that you have the proper tools, you’re ready to start pruning. There are two methods: heading and thinning.”Heading is when you shear across the plant nonselectively,” Westerfield said. “This method is normally used on boxwoods to give them that formal look.”Use heading sparingly, as it causes new growth to grow back too thick, choking air and light from the interior branches of the shrub.Thinning is more useful and will lead to a healthier shrub in the spring. Gas or electric hedge trimmers are notorious for causing thick growth at the tips of branches.”Use thinning to prune out sections of the plant to allow more light and air inside,” he said. “The increased air reduces diseases and insects like spider mites.”How you prune determines the shape of your plant.”If you leave buds on the outside, it causes the plant to grow outward and spread,” he said. “If you leave buds on the inside it causes the plant to fill out from within.”Let in air and light.Westerfield reminds home landscapers to always leave the bottom of the plant larger than the top while pruning so that the plant forms a pyramid shape. “If you don’t, you’ll cause a canopy effect, and no light will get in,” he said.Make your cuts at a slant, too, and at a fraction above the bud. The slant will allow water to roll off the newly cut surface.Don’t use pruning paints.”They’re unnecessary and may slow the cuts’ healing,” Westerfield said.Complement pruning by going easy with the fertilizer. You want your plants to put any stored energy they have into healing, not into sending new shoots.UGA Extension will offer an in-depth pruning workshop from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on February 10 at the UGA Griffin Campus. The cost of the workshop is $59 and includes lunch, snacks and printed materials. For more information, email Beth Horne at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 770-228-7214.UGA Extension has a number of free, online publications with diagrams that can help gardeners figure out which plants need pruning, when pruning is necessary and what techniques are needed for each shrub. Visit extension.uga.edu/publications and search “pruning” or call your local Extension office at 1-800-ASK-UGA1.
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Hundreds of people have protested outside Romania’s Health Ministry the day after a fatal fire at one of the country’s main hospitals for COVID-19 patients. The protest on Saturday was organized by a right-wing political party. Protesters called for the resignations of the president, the health minister and the emergencies chief. At least five people died in the fire that broke out Friday on the ground floor of the Matei Bals hospital in Bucharest. It was the third hospital fire in Romania in as many months. The health minister says the cause is not yet known and an investigation is ongoing, He agreed Romania needs new hospitals.
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Sara Burczy joins Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermontas the new Wellness and Community Outreach CoordinatorBerlin, VT Sara Burczy is the new Wellness and Community Outreach Coordinator at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont (BCBSVT). She has responsibility for the day-to-day management of the three-year Vermont Worksite Wellness Project sponsored by BCBSVT and the University of Vermont. This exciting research study is funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Health Protection Research Initiative. The project will test the effectiveness of various types of wellness programs in the workplace. The project will offer a randomly selected group of 32 BCBSVT employer accounts with between 51 and 249 employees free worksite wellness programming in four areasnutrition and weight management, physical activity, stress reduction, and smoking cessationfor a period of 24 months. As project manager, Ms. Burczy will oversee the collection of outcomes data at regular six-month intervals.Ms. Burczy has extensive experience helping Vermonters from all walks of life to adopt healthier lifestyles. As a UVM Extension Professor and Nutrition & Food Specialist, she developed and implemented nutrition and health education programs throughout the state for over twenty-five years. Working with other UVM faculty, she also previously conducted research related to worksite wellness and nutrition (including obesity prevention and weight management). In addition, she served on the committee that created the University of Vermont employee wellness program in the 1990s. Prior to joining UVM Extension, Sara was the Marketing Assistant at the Burlington Savings Bank.Ms. Burczy earned her Master of Extension Education degree at the University of Vermont, where her concentration was community nutrition and health education. She did her undergraduate work at the University of Nebraska, where she graduated with high distinction with a dual major in journalism and family and consumer sciences. Ms. Burczy has received several national professional awards for her teaching, research and media work in the areas of nutrition and wellness.Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is the state’s oldest and largest private health insurer, providing coverage for about 180,000 Vermonters. It employs over 350 Vermonters at its headquarters in Berlin and branch office in Williston, and offers group and individual health plans to Vermonters. More information about Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is available on the Internet at www.bcbsvt.com(link is external). Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is an independent corporation operating under a license with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans.(End)
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A 62-year-old investment fund manager pleaded guilty at federal court in Central Islip on Monday to securities fraud after operating a nine-year Ponzi scheme that netted more than $17 million.James Peister agreed to pay $9.6 million in restitution to dozens of victims and to forfeit $17.9 million in assets, including his St. James home and a Hummer, prosecutors said.“For nearly a decade, rather than make sound investment decisions as he had promised, James Peister fleeced dozens of investors and used their money to fund his own lavish lifestyle,” Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement.Prosecutors said Peister ripped off at least 74 investors through several investments funds—Northstar International Group Inc., North American Globex Group, and North American Globex Fund, LP—between January 2000 and June 2009.Victims believed they were investing in stocks, futures and fixed income instruments, prosecutors said. Instead, Peister used their money to pay out existing investors, finance his business and pay for his home and Hummer, prosecutors said.He was able to maintain the fraud by providing phony financial statements to investors and auditors that overstated the value of his clients’ assets, prosecutors said.The scheme fell apart when the economy collapsed in 2008, prosecutors said. Peister was arrested in June of this year.Peister is scheduled to be sentenced on March 6, 2015. He faces up to 20 years in prison.