Springtime means bulbs, buds and blooms

If you overwintered dahlias from last year in a large clump, use a sharp knife to divide them into pieces with at least two sprouts each. Dig holes 12 inches deep for the tall varieties, and about 8 inches deep for the shorter types. Lay one tuber at the bottom of each hole and cover with about 3 inches of soil. As the shoots grow, fill in around the stem with more soil until the hole is filled up.

After lilacs finish flowering, prune off the old blossoms to increase the number of flowers next year. Do this soon because the plants will begin setting buds for next year's flowers. To reduce the height of the shrub, prune the old stems to the ground and allow new shoots to grow. Prune all at once, or gradually remove one-third of the old stems over a three-year period for a less drastic effect.

When gardening, especially around weeds and grassy areas and as plants grow taller, be on the watch for ticks. Three types of ticks, but particularly deer ticks, can transmit the serious lyme disease. Although rarely fatal, it can be quite debilitating unless treated early. Tick bites that don't disappear in a few days, that develop a "bull's eye" appearance, and expand, should be checked out at once by a doctor. While no vaccines prevent this disease, it can be treated with antibiotics during early stages of infection. Wear long pants and sleeves if ticks are about.

Charlie Nardozzi of South Burlington is a nationally known horticulturist, author, gardening consultant, and garden coach (CharlieNardozzi.com). Distribution of this release is made possible by New England Grows, a conference providing education for industry professionals and support for UVM Extension's outreach efforts in ornamental horticulture.

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