Great timing for pruning and tool sharpening

By Mary Fran McClure
WSU Chelan/Douglas County Master Gardener

Arborist prunin a tree.
Anita Poortinga, a WSU Master Gardener and certified arborist, lops off water sprouts (those straight-up stems) from a flowering plum tree. She is working to restore the tree, which was damaged by topping several years ago. By cautiously heading off water sprouts, she encourages flower growth throughout the tree rather than just at its top. “Don’t top trees,” she advises. – Provided photo/Mary Fran McClure
Mary Fran McClure
Mary Fran McClure – WSU Extension Chelan/Douglas County Master Gardener – photo by Don Seabrook, Wenatchee World

It’s a pretty good guess that most everyone except snow enthusiasts is happy to see the likes of spring emerging. That includes gardeners raring to prune, cleanup and plant. Sharpening tools for these jobs is an important element in making gardening chores easier. It will mean less hassle and consternation.

With that in mind, take a look at this year’s schedule for the Third Saturday in the Garden series presented by WSU Chelan-Douglas Master Gardeners. It’s held at the Community Education Garden on the northwest corner of Western and Springwater avenues in Wenatchee.

There will not be a Third Saturday event in April because Master Gardeners are busy growing plants and preparing for our annual plant sale on Saturday, April 27 at Pybus Public Market.

Mark these dates on your calendar and watch for specific talks and demonstrations in my upcoming columns, published roughly a week before each of these events.

Saturday, March 16, 1 to 3 p.m. Gardening is off to a good start with a spring pruning demonstration by certified arborist and WSU Master Gardener Anita Poortinga. She offers a wealth of information on the do’s and don’ts of pruning shrubs and trees. You’ll hear the reasons why tree topping is so detrimental, as well as other pruning tips. After her talk, the group will do a walk around the garden while she points out shrubs and trees and their proper pruning needs. And you’ll get a chance to ask specific questions about your pruning problems.

Diane Lee will also demonstrate how to prune various roses, and Cheri Garrett will demonstrate a small, easy-to-use stick carbide sharpening tool (available to buy). Our team will sharpen pruners and loppers you bring to this event, and we do appreciate a small donation for the service. These proceeds help our local Master Gardener Foundation, which funds our many events.

Saturday, May 18, 10 a.m. to noon, “Gardening is Dirty Work.” WSU Regional Extension Specialist Dale Whaley will talk about safe pesticide usage, and Julie Sanderson, coordinator of the Chelan County Noxious Weed Control Board, will discuss weed control. There will also be a discussion of options and opportunities for managing garden waste.

Saturday, June 15, 10 a.m. to noon, “Garden Education Faire.” You’ll find learning stations and engaging garden demonstrations throughout the garden on a variety of topics, including composting, vegetable gardening, irrigation systems, native plants, kids’ events and more.

Saturday, July 20, 10 a.m. to noon. This Third Saturday will highlight multitudes of ways for managing water usage in your garden.

Saturday, Aug. 17, 10 a.m. to noon, 14th annual “Tomato Gala.” This free tomato-tasting extravaganza offers a chance to sample a huge selection of tomatoes so you can pick your favorites.

Saturday, Sept. 21, 10 a.m. to noon, Kids Day. Plenty of fun and educational child-friendly activities spread around our garden.

Saturday, Oct. 5, 1 to 3 p.m., “Fall Preparation for Next Spring.” Note that this is on the first Saturday of the month, not our usual Third Saturday. The date change provides better timing for our main presentation by Bonnie Orr. This Harvest Party concludes the year’s series and will include small tool sharpening so you’ll be ready for spring with knowledge and sharp pruners and loppers.

For more information, contact WSU Extension at (509) 667-6540 between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to noon on Fridays.

A WSU Chelan and Douglas County Master Gardener column appears weekly in The Wenatchee World. To learn more, visit or call (509) 667-6540.