I’ve heard it said a hundred times, “in life, timing is everything.” I believe this is true in life, love, and horticulture. Success or failure depends on it.
In my life, if I hadn’t met my love, Lori, when I was a 21-year-old, wide-eyed hippie working at Locker’s Floral and Greenhouse, I would have had a completely different life. You wouldn’t be reading these words right now because I wouldn’t be working at Johnson’s. It’s not unlike the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, only substitute Menomonee Falls for Bedford Falls.
If I had met Lori earlier, when I was a bit less outgoing, we probably wouldn’t have talked. I probably wouldn’t have met her later because I would have taken a job in Texas.
Timing is everything. Things have to happen at the right time to succeed. This is true in Horticulture as well. Success or failure is often determined more by when you do something, rather than how you do it. Pest control, plant propagation, B&B digging, fertilization, weed control, plant selection, and pruning are some of the horticultural activities that have critical timing components that need to be understood for success to be accomplished.
If one wants to control Birch Leaf Miner, by preventing the organism from feeding on the leaves of Paper Birch trees, you must kill them when they are in the young larva stage. Various pesticides will work but the key element is to spray them when they are in this most vulnerable stage. I have found phenological relationships (bloom times) to be the most useful tool to zero in on this time. In this case that would be when Spiraea x vanhouttei blooms. Some other indicators which would be blooming at the same time include Black Locust, (Robinia pseudoacacia) and Prairie Crabapple, (Malus ioensis). This type of Pest management information is available in a book, Coincide—The Orton System of Pest Management, published in the late 1980s. Timing is the key.
I have used phenological relationships to determine when I should begin propagating shrubs from softwood cuttings each year. I get the houses ready to stick cuttings when the French Hybrid Lilacs (Syringa vulgaris) begin blooming. Once that is done, I assess the wood of the Redbud Crabapple (Malus x zumi ‘Calocarpa’) and Grefsheim Spirea (Spiraea x cinera ‘Grefsheim’) to see if it has hardened up enough to take. When the young Crabapple shoots have elongated to about 8” in length and snap when I bend them near their base, they are ready to go. With the Spirea, there should be a bit of brown wood at the base of the cuttings, indicating that the wood is just starting to lignify (get woody). We use the top part that is still soft. Success is closely linked to the timing and being able to measure the timing from one season to the next.