December 2021

The holidays bring with them a wealth of traditions. Culinary delights, seasonal decorations and family gatherings all take on special meaning during this season of celebration. Plants too are part of the holidays and have been for centuries.

Two plants, in particular, are associated with the Christmas season, the Christmas rose (Helleborus niger) and the Winter Rose (Euphorbia pulcherrima aka poinsettia). Both plants have similar holiday legends attributed to them. Madelon, a country girl visiting the Christ Child is forlorn because she has no gift to bring but an angel brings her outside, touches the ground and forth springs the first Christmas rose (Hellebore), her humble gift.

In the second legend, a poor Mexican girl named Pepita had no gift to bring to baby Jesus at Christmas Eve services. Her cousin tried to comfort her by telling her that even the smallest gift if given with love would make Jesus happy. She made a small bouquet out of some weeds and when she entered the church and laid them at the altar, they turned into bright red flowers. Church goers were sure they witnesses a miracle and to this day poinsettias are known as the ‘Flowers of the Holy Night’ or ‘Flores de Noche Buena’. 

Over the past decade or so, hellebores have been a horticultural hit. They are indigenous to mountainous regions in southern and central Europe and typically found on chalky, stony clay soils. There are about 20 species of evergreen or herbaceous hellebores. They can be found in colors ranging from white to cream, green, and pink to purple. Newer introductions have expanded the range of pinks and purples and introduced doubles, bicolors, spotted blossoms and variegated foliage.

Hellebores come in a wide color range. Photo by dmp, 2008

All hellebores are poisonous containing cardiac glycosides, saponins and ranunculosides. In fact the Latin name of the species known as the Christmas rose, Helleborus niger, comes from the Greek ‘elein’ meaning ‘to injure’ and ‘bora’ meaning ‘food’. Niger refers to the black color of its roots. Despite being poisonous, this plant has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb to cure mental disorders, intestinal worms, convulsions, tumors and various other ailments.

In its native habitat, the Christmas rose blooms from December to April, its buds opening as snow melts around its planting site. Here bloom times are also weather dependent with earlier blossoming during milder winters. Plants reach about a foot in height.

Helleborus niger sending up buds 12/28/21 in East Hartford. Photo by Louise Carroll, 2021

Hellebores in general do best in partially shaded sites with moderately moist soils. They can tolerate full sun but I find they need water on a regular basis or they do not grow much. Plan on planting hellebores in groups of 3 to 7 plants for a nice show. Plants spread slowly by rhizomes and seed. While not plant is 100 percent deer resistant, hellebores are usually not bothered by deer and other herbivores.

When happy, hellebores slowly form good sized patches. Photo by dmp, 2012.

Evergreen hellebores tend to look a bit ragged coming out of the winter and some leaves may need to be trimmed when new ones start to emerge. There are two basic groups of hellebores – those that have leaves on stems (caulescent) and those like the Christmas rose that have some leafy bracts on flower stalks but otherwise basal leaves (acaulescent). What most people associate with the alluring flowers are 5 petal-like sepals which surround a ring of yellow nectaries which are modified petals that hold nectar. The sepals last for months although their color fades. Leave them on the plants as they are thought to contribute to the development of seeds.

Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are beloved holiday plants and just like the hellebore, the colorful part of the plant that most associate with the blossoms are actually modified leaves called bracts. The real flowers are the small, yellow, bud-like structures in the middle called cyathias. There have been rumors about the poinsettia being poisonous but it is not. The white, latex sap, however, may produce skin irritations for some people.  

Poinsettia ‘Christmas Confetti’ bred by Bob Shabot, UConn. Photo by dmp, 2009

The U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Joel Robert Poinsett, first brought the poinsettia to the states in 1825. It was a tall lanky plant that tended to drop its leaves but produced these beautiful red bracts in the winter. It was not until almost 100 years later when Paul Ecke of California developed a poinsettia that could be successfully grown as a houseplant. Now more than 34 million poinsettias are sold each year.

Breeders have expanded the color range to include pinks, creams, salmons, yellows, whites and bicolors. Some have touches of bronze and cinnamon. One of the Paul Ecke Ranch’s more recent introductions is the Winter Rose™ series of multi-petaled poinsettias. They were developed by Franz Fruehwirth who retired in 2000 after 38 years as a breeder for Ecke.

Poinsettia ‘Golden Glo’. Photo by dmp, 2021.

The first Winter Rose™ was a dark red and it was released in 2003. Each colored bract is puckered and inward curly looking like a rose in full bloom from a distance. After Winter Rose™ Dark Red was introduced, followed wonderful cultivars in light and dark pink, cream, yellow and most recently a cultivar called ‘Marble’ with soft pink bracts tipped in cream.

One of the outstanding features of the Winter Rose™ series is that the plant look great for many weeks, even months. Since this series has smaller leaves and reduced leaf area as compared to other types of poinsettias, it has a lower water requirement so forgetting to water plants occasionally is not as detrimental to them.

Winter Rose poinsettia. Photo by dmp, 2009

Poinsettias as a rule enjoy bright, indirect light, temperatures in the 60s F and enough water so that pots are moist but not overly wet. Often pots come wrapped in decorative foil. Make sure pots can drain well either by removing the foil and setting the plant in a saucer or by making holes in the foil to allow excess water to drain away. Keep poinsettias away from drafts and heat sources and they will look good until Valentine’s Day when you just might receive a bouquet of real roses.

Happy Holidays!

Dawn P.

It looks like many of us here in Connecticut are having a “White Christmas”! Enough snow fell the morning of the 24th to require shoveling. With freezing rain in the forecast for Christmas Day however, most people will probably choose to spend the day indoors, ideally by the fire with a warm drink and a book. While I didn’t have a yule log burning, this year I tried my hand at preparing some mushroom cultivation logs between other holiday festivities.

The idea to try growing mushrooms at home came to me earlier in the year when I wanted to buy some shiitake mushrooms for a recipe I was making. I was able to get them from a supermarket nearby and found that they had been grown here in New England. I was delighted to know that the mushrooms had been grown nearby and wanted to take a shot at growing them myself. With a little research, I found I had most of the tools I needed already at home.

Unlike oyster mushrooms and some other types that are easily grown in compost substrate, shiitake are more easily grown using hardwood logs. When selecting a log, choose one that is solid and freshly-cut, with no symptoms of disease. An ideal choice would be an oak or maple log, 2 to 4 feet long and 4 to 8 inches in diameter. Fortuitously, I did not need to purchase any such logs this year as a neighbor removed a few branches from a healthy oak that had been overhanging the street and was happy to share.

The “perfect log” was a fortuitous gift from a neighbor dealing with yard waste. It is about 20in long with a 5in diameter.

Once the proper logs have been collected and cleaned, they are ready to be inoculated with shiitake “spawn”. This refers to the shiitake mycelium – the threadlike “body” of the fungus that produces mushrooms after sufficiently colonizing the log. Many hobbyists sell this spawn growing on hardwood sawdust or on hardwood dowels. I chose to use dowels to inoculate my logs, which I purchased from a reputable online vendor.

I drilled holes barely larger than the inoculation dowels at regular intervals across the log. Since this was my first time, I used plenty of inoculation dowels to increase the likelihood of the mycelium rapidly and uniformly colonizing the log. I placed each inoculation dowel over the hole and gently hammered it in place using a rubber mallet. When hammering the dowels, I realized that some of the holes I drilled were a little too narrow and the dowel would not completely fit.

I drilled the holes in my garage to keep my workspace tidy. The holes were just barely larger than the inoculation dowels I was planning to use. A clean dowel without mushroom spawn is placed near the log for illustrative purposes.

Conversely, a few of the holes I drilled were too large and there were some small gaps around the dowels. These gaps create easy entry points for other fungi to enter the log and compete with the shiitake for resources, so it is important to seal them. I used melted beeswax to cover the holes. Although I just poured the beeswax over the holes with success, this was a somewhat messy process. I reviewed some tips online and found that many people use a horsehair paintbrush to “paint” the melted wax over the holes. I will probably do the same moving forward for easier cleanup and a nicer appearance. I recommend using a brush if you plan to gift the mushroom log to a loved one.

Holes that are too large for just the dowel need to be sealed to prevent other fungi from colonizing the log. An example of such a hole is shown here.
I used white beeswax pellets to fill the gaps around the dowels. Other non-toxic sealants and waxes may also be used, such as paraffin wax, but beeswax is what most hobbyists use. The beeswax I chose to use was not cosmetic-grade, so it was affordable and easy to find.

When the dowels are finished, label and date the log. I chose to use a permanent marker to label the cut end of the log, but some people prefer to attach labeled tags to the logs. Many hobbyists online recommend coating the cut ends of the log in wax to reduce the likelihood of other fungi colonizing the log. This seems to be especially recommended for people keeping the logs in warm, humid environments with lots of fungal pressure, such as in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern states. I did not coat the ends of my log initially, but I may choose to do so before moving them outside in the spring.

My labeled log is all ready to go! I used permanent marker to ensure that the label will not wash off when the log gets wet. Covering the end with beeswax would help the log retain moisture, protect it from other fungi, and have the added benefit of protecting the label from being damaged or discolored.

It is important to protect the shiitake logs from freezing temperatures while they are initially being colonized. For this reason, my logs will be spending the winter in my garage. They need to be kept moist, so I will water and turn them once each week when I water my other houseplants. The bark should dry out completely between watering.

When there is no longer a risk of freezing temperatures, I will move the logs to a shady area in my yard. The logs will not need to be covered unless there is a risk of them drying-out (e.g., intense heat wave) or if there is a severe storm that could flood or damage the logs. After the logs produce their first “batch” of mushrooms, they should be considered fully colonized and will not need to be protected from the cold. With a little luck, the logs will produce mushrooms once or twice each year for about 5 years.  

I’ll report back next year on the success of my efforts and any additional tips or trick I pick up in the process.

Happy holidays!


Beautiful gills

Nature alone is antique, and the oldest art a mushroom.
– Thomas Carlyle

This fall while I was hiking through woods and woodland trails, for some reason a little light seemed to go off in my consciousness that directed my eyes toward the mushrooms that seemed to be growing everywhere. Because of the rains and warm temperatures, mushrooms seemed to have popped up all at once – in lawns, leaf litter on and around trees, on logs and stumps, and on bare soils. I was never terribly interested in fungi before, but that has all changed now. I bought a good mushroom field guide (Peterson’s Field Guide to Mushrooms of North America) and I have been on a tear ever since.

Cauliflower ruffles Sparassis spathulata mushroom

I had no idea that mushrooms can have pores or teeth rather than gills, so that is now the first focus when trying to narrow down the field in identification. Now the first thing I look for is if the cap has gills, pores, teeth or is just a capsule with spores inside, as with puffballs.  I have a little mirror that I can slide under the caps to see the reproductive structures without having to damage the fruiting body in the process. I learned that boletes have pores, Amanitas and fly agarics have gills,  and if a mushroom has gills, for instance, it cannot be a bolete. It narrows the field right away for identification purposes.

Pepper Bolete Has Pores
Distinctive gills of the viscid violet cort

There are several gill types- decurrent, attached, open, in relationship to the stalk and widely spaced or tightly spaced. Some can be waved at the edges of the cap. Pores can be small, large, rounded or angular, and both gills and pores can have distinctive colors, both of the tissue itself and the spores.  

Cantharellus cinnabarinus cinnabar chantertelle has decurrent gills that run down the stalk

Amanita mushroom with typical membranous veil on the stipe

Toothed mushrooms are least common, I think, and they are very interesting as well. Teeth can be flattened, pointed, or somewhere in between. The stacked tooth fungus Climacodon septentrionalis, is a parasitic fungus that can grow quite large in the space of a few months. They form a tight stack like pancakes on trunks of living trees like maples.

Stacked tooth mushroom on a sugar maple
Yellow teeth of the stacked tooth mushroom with brown spores on left

Some mushrooms have strong associations with particular tree species, such as the Leccinum scabrum– birch scaber stalk. Stems of the birch scaber stalk bolete have wooly scales and base can have blue- green stains. Pores are white, then age to gray-brown and the cap is brown. The chunky false tinder conk Phellinus tremulae is associated with aspens and resembles a horse’s hoof.

False tinder conks have killed this aspen

The most spectacular mushroom, which I saw for the first time, was the bear’s head tooth fungus, which looked like a mass of tiny icicles dripping down the side of a living tree.

Hericium americanum bear’s head tooth fungus

Another first find for me were the diminutive Calostoma cinnabarineum puffballs, which have a cap like an acorn atop a thick stalk. The whole fruiting body is covered with a cinnamon-red gel which slowly slides off. Inside the capsule is a mass of dust-like white spores.

Calostoma cinnabarineum puffball is on a gel covered stalk

Lycoperdon perlatum puffball

Coral mushrooms do not have caps, but they have branches or a clublike form. Spores form on the surface of these clubs or branches and fall off. Cup mushroom have concave caps which may be curled or wavy

Orange Ascomycete Cup Fungus

Coral fungi

Stinkhorns are often smelled before they are seen. They usually have a stinky slime on the top that contains the spores. Flies are attracted to this offensive mess and spread the spores when they leave. Ravenel’s and the dog stinkhorn Mutinus caninus have a definite phallic form and stalks with a styrofoam or spongy texture.

Ravenel’s stinkhorn
Stinky squid

There are so many mushrooms yet to encounter, and I can’t wait until warmer weather arrives again next year. In the meantime I will dream of finding fairy inkcap crumble mushrooms and red and white fly agarics.

Pamm Cooper

False turkey tail bracket fungi

Talk to any gardener, and chances are you’ll find their hobby has morphed into a passion. And, they probably already have a library full of garden books and a shed full of tools. As a result, deciding what to give your favorite garden geek for the holidays can pose a real challenge. To help you find the perfect gift., we took a survey of the elves around the Home and Garden Education Center and came up with a number of gift suggestions we think any gardener would love to have. So, without further ado, here are our selections for the best gifts for the gardener in your life – even if that gardener is you!

Dawn Pettinelli, Associate Cooperative Extension Educator, heads the UConn Soil Nutrient Analysis Lab and oversees the UConn Home & Garden Education Center and thought these would make great gifts.

Dawn Pettinelli

A soil test kit. After all, healthy soil makes for a healthy plant, and UCONN can do the test! Call (860) 486-4274 to find out how to get one.  

Soil test collection kit. Photo by Patrick McIntosh

A new pair of gardening gloves (or two, or four).  Because you can never have enough.

Gardening gloves. Image from

Dawn’s favorite suggestion is an assassin shovel. She says it’s great for digging and separating perennials. 

Assassin shovels from

Dr. Nick Goltz, Assistant Cooperative Extension Educator and Plant Pathologist heads our Plant Diagnostic Lab. In addition, he teaches pathology to our Master Gardener interns. Here are a few of his favorite gift ideas:

Dr. Nick Goltz

 A good ceramic or cement planter; terracotta is also very nice to have.  What gardener wouldn’t love a nice planter for their favorite plants?

Terra cotta pot from

A compost bin OR materials to make your own compost area. That could be a very nice gift for any budget.

Compost bins. Photo courtesy of

Last but certainly not least, (and a personal favorite of mine), a mushroom growing kit. Imagine having an endless supply of mushrooms? The kit could be purchased, or it could be a great DIY gift. A gift that keeps on giving. How fun is that?

Pamm Cooper, who splits her time with the Home & Garden Education Center with teaching entomology and turf to UConn Master Gardener interns, suggests a few must-haves for any gardener:

Pamm Cooper, UConn Home & Garden Education Center

Pamm swears by her Hori Hori knife. It is used for weeding, seeding, transferring bulbs, digging the perfect hole and cutting branches.

Hori Hori knife from

Pamm also loves a pair of pocket snips. These are perfect for dead-heading and pruning perennials.

Pocket snips from

And last, Pamm recommends a straight edged blade for edging garden beds, weeding, digging and planting. A must have for her tool bag.

Straight edge shovel from

Me? My ultimate gift- and dream car- is a Kubota BX 1880 subtractor with bucket loader, (Please Santa, I’ve been a very good girl.)

Marie Woodward, UConn Home & Garden Education Center
Marie’s dream car! From

But short of that (and a lot less expensive), I like the Paper pot maker. An environmentally friendly way to make starter pots, no plastic!

Paper pot maker. From

But my favorite gift for any gardener? Why not a tree? More specifically, a flowering tree! What a wonderful way to give a gift that the gardener will enjoy year after year? Get a gift certificate now, and plant in the spring.

Easter redbud from

Lastly, when you just can’t think of the perfect gift for the gardener in your life? A gift certificate to their favorite garden center never fails.  Any of the above gifts (except the Kubota) can be purchased at your local nursery or online. I think the Kubota requires a visit to a dealer. Still, it may fit in Santa’s sleigh – forever the optimist!

That rounds out the gift list for this year. All of us at the UConn Home and Garden Education Center want to wish you and yours the happiest of holidays with peace, love, and pest-free and productive gardens throughout the new year.

Happy Holidays!

Marie Woodward

So here we are in the cold, finally seeing some snow. It is hard to think about wanting to go outside and do any yard work. This time of year, however, is one of my favorite times! We are now experiencing ideal times for tree and shrub trimming for a number of reasons. The first is the most obvious – the leaves are off the trees. This can be both an advantage and disadvantage.  With the leaves off, we cannot tell which branches are alive or dead. To me, this is less of a concern as I am more focused on bigger issues of tree shape and proximity to my house and outbuildings. Dead limbs can be trimmed at any time of year. What is advantageous is bare limbs allow us to get a good view of the tree as a whole and find the exact point we want to cut. It allows us to see the tree as a whole and not just a branch sticking out to one side. This way we are less likely to cut the “wrong” branch and end up with an oddly shaped tree.

Overgrown trees next to a house can lead to many costly repairs and possibly increased insurance costs. Photo by mrl2021.

The cold weather provides many additional advantages. For one, the tree is in a dormant state.  The flow of sap is toward the roots, so cutting will not harm the tree’s health now. When cut in the summer in full leaf, the sap may flow out of the tree and rob it of energy/nutrients. This can also attract many of the tree’s pests. The cold weather also provides solid ground for us to stand on, or put a ladder on. This gives us much more safety and stability when we attempt to cut some branches. The third reason I like cold weather cutting is that I do not have a lot going on outside in the garden. During other times of the year, I am very active in the vegetable and flower gardens while also trying to keep up with lawn maintenance. What generally ends up happening is that the tree trimming does not get done. Here in the winter, however, I have more time. The only exceptions is that I would not recommend trimming in deep snow. The obstructed view may prove dangerous when you are trying to set up a ladder. Another word of caution is to watch out for ice!

Not trimming the trees by your house, shed, barn, or other outbuildings can lead to many disasters! Not only that, but your insurance company many also increase your rates should they come out to inspect the property (a more common practice nowadays). Tree branches that touch the side of your house can damage it in multiple ways. The simplest is rubbing the paint or finish off of your siding. In the case of brick or aluminum siding, rubbing branches may leave some permanent marks in them as well, negatively affecting the appearance of your house when the tree is finally cut or if it dies/falls. In extreme cases, I have seen holes rubbed into wood siding, which may invite birds to nest, or even worse – squirrels (more on them in a minute). Hanging tree branches that touch your roof can ruin your shingles. Branches blowing in the wind can rub on the shingles and wear them away over time, or the branches may actually pry off or break shingles when blowing in a big storm. Even if the branches do not touch the shingles directly, they may shade the roof and not allow it to dry sufficiently. This moist situation can invite moss to grow, which breaks down your shingles through mechanical and chemical action. All these situations can lead to premature failure of the roof, which is a very costly repair. Lastly, branches touching or coming into close contact with a building may invite squirrels. Although cute looking, they cause a lot of destruction and costly damage. If you patch up one of their holes, they will simply and quickly chew another one. The best way to avoid this war is to prevent their access to your structures by keeping the branches beyond jumping distance (six feet or more). 

These woody shrubs rubbing on the garage can remove paint and wear away the wooden siding over time. Photo by mrl2021.

So many people worry about the “proper” way to trim trees. Although you will find no shortage of advice on the subject, in general there is no perfect way to trim. The worst thing you can do is nothing, and then have your buildings ruined. Trees will grow back over time, and any mistakes will soon disappear. Different types of fruit trees may have different ideas or patterns of cutting (consult a good fact sheet, book, or internet search for your specific type), but most of our trees are for landscaping. There are Japanese maples, weeping willows, and certain ornamental trees that have a specific shape. Be careful trimming these to preserve their growth pattern. Conifers should generally be left alone unless trimming is absolutely necessary. What I will talk about here is generalized cutting tips for deciduous trees (these lose their leaves in the fall) and shrubs.  To start off, cut away any branches that are coming into contact with the building. Rather than cut back each branch, it may be better to go back to a common node (growth point) from which all the branches sprout. In general, cut in a way that looks pleasing to the overall shape of the tree. Decide how you want things to look before you start, rather than making it up as you go along. I like to start by cutting out any branches that are growing toward the center of the tree or shrub and rubbing together. These can injure the tree and allow pests and/or diseases to enter.  Also, a pattern of a trunk with branches at the top works the best. Balance out the number of branches on each side. Leaving the lower part of the tree with short stubby branches is not too visibly appealing. Lower limbs should be cut back all the way to the trunk. When trimming a branch, it is a good idea to make a shallow cut underneath, and then move to the top of the branch and slightly outward toward the tip to make the actual trim cut. If done properly, when you are cutting through the branch and it starts to break off, it snaps off nice and clean instead of ripping bark off the remaining branch. One last note of caution – make sure you are not underneath the branches you are trimming.This way when limbs fall, they will not hit into your ladder, or anything/anyone else!

When you cut tree or shrub branches, you want to cut a significant amount off. For example, if I have a mature tree touching my house and I cut 6 inches of a branch off, by mid-summer the tree will have sent multiple new branches toward my house. Trees can be a little like the mythical hydra. Cut off one branch and two grow back into its place. This has to do with the meristem tissues. Basically speaking, when you cut off the apical meristem (tip), the two lateral meristems at the previous node (growth points) will sprout. So, with all that in mind, when you cut a branch back on a mature tree, you should decide how many feet you want to cut off, not inches. There is only real exception to the late fall/early winter trimming. Do not trim azaleas, rhododendrons, forsythias, or other early spring flowering shrubs. They set their flower buds late in the year for the following spring. If trimmed at this time, you will essentially be cutting off flower buds. Too much trimming will leave a very lopsided bloom, or no blooms at all. These plants are best trimmed right after they get done flowering. Hopefully you can find the time!          

These Rhododendrons are best trimmed in the spring after flowering. The dormant flower buds can be seen at the tips of the branches. Photo by mrl2021.

There are more tools than a person would know what to do with for trimming trees. I will discuss some of my favorites here. While hand-held pruning shears are nice, they will not really be very effective. Most of the branch diameters that you will trim will be larger than they can cut through. The basic, most useful tool is the two handled loppers. The long handles give the leverage needed to more easily cut through larger diameter branches. These come in two styles: anvil and bypass. The anvil type has a blade that comes down and rests on the solid piece below (anvil). I do not like these as they have a tendency to crush the stems, and sometimes do not completely cut through the branch. The bypass type has the blade cut past the bottom non-moving blade. These seem to work very well and make for nice cuts. Make sure to keep the blade sharp! There are a number of sharpeners for sale to help with this. 

The hand held pruners (left) are not really big enough for tree and shrub work. The bypass loppers (right) make the work much easier. Photo by mrl2021.

A number of people like bow saws. These are great for cutting down Christmas trees as the construction allows the blade to flex a little while using it. Another advantage is the blades are easily replaced. It usually takes a bit of effort to use them, and I tend to prefer a pruning saw instead. The pruning saws have a lot of really sharp teeth in multiple directions that allows the cutting to happen rather quickly. I find these take a lot less effort to use, and they stay sharp for many years.

The bow saw (top) is best for cutting down Christmas trees. The pruning saw makes trim work quick and much easier than traditional saws. Photo by mrl2021.
A close up of the sharp, multidirectional teeth on a pruning saw. Photo by mrl2021.

For tall trees or high limbs, there are pole saws. This tool’s name is also its description. It consists of a saw on the end of a long pole. Usually you end up positioning the blade on the tree limb and then pull a rope to get the saw to cut. Better yet is an electric or gas powered pole saw.  This is essentially a mini chainsaw on the end of a long pole. These are much easier to use, but as would be expected cost more money. Many times you can buy an extra extension piece to allow for a longer reach. Be careful of falling limbs when using pole saws. The use of a hard hat is recommended. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use and safety concerns.

A gas powered pole saw. Photo by mrl2021.

The last few tools are much more expensive and increasingly more dangerous to use. Recently, the major hand-held power tool companies have come out with one handed Sawzall battery operated tools. There are special pruning blades that can be used in these that will make short work of your trimming duties. One of the newest tools is a mini battery powered chainsaw that you operate one handed. These would be used for smaller diameter pruning options. Last, but not least, is a good old-fashioned chainsaw. These may be gas or battery powered. They need to have oil to lubricate the chain. These cut through lumber like butter (unless your chain gets dull).  They are much easier to use, but very dangerous. If you choose this option, make sure to educate yourself on proper chainsaw safety. In some situations, this tool may be too large for the job.       

A gas powered chainsaw. This tool may be too big for many of our trimming projects. Photo by mrl2021.

Well hopefully this helps you get motivated to use this cold weather downtime to get some yardwork done! Many of these items would make for great holiday gifts for an avid gardener or landscape enthusiast. These items can be found at most big box stores, hardware stores, equipment dealers, and even some online retailers. There is nothing better than the proper equipment when you have job to do. Happy trimming! 

Matt Lisy