By Phran Novelli

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Leap Day is a strange little calendar bonus we get every four years because it takes more than 365 days for the earth to go around the sun. Lucky for us, as my best pal pointed out, Leap Day’s also a good cue to take care of those garden chores that don’t need doing every year.

I hardly ever prune my old fashioned big-leaf hydrangeas, for example, because they bloom better left alone, but every few years it’s good to remove the oldest branches. Old hydrangea wood is so dried and hollow, you can often just twist one with your hand and pull it out easily from the base.

I actually learned this trick from one of my doggies, who as a puppy, proudly plucked out every old hydrangea branch that wasn’t holding on tight. It turned out, he was only able to tug out the oldest wood with his tiny teeth, and that shrub was better for his grooming efforts after he did.

If the old wood doesn’t pull right out, you can snip it off at ground level. And while you’re down there, clean out the leaves and flower heads that tend to get trapped in the base of the plant too. In no time, you’ll have a healthier, happier hydrangea that won’t need much of your attention again for quite awhile…say, about four years or so.

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