It’s not been a great 48 hrs for me being laid up in bed with gastric flu and facing the prospect of a weekend without getting into the garden; hopefully it will pass soon. But it’s given me a chance to do some reading and I have to say I now realise just how confusing this pastime of ours can be.
You may have seen my earlier posts about the excellent advice given by Ray Broughton at a series of talks to members of my local Horticultural Society. One of the potential minefields we navigated through was pruning. Now this was useful for me as either side of my garden there is a long hedge, one side beech and the other conifer. One other thing that stuck in my mind was how to successfully remove reverted shoots in a variagated shrub as I have a few of them dotted about.
So I checked in my RHS Garden Enclyclopedia which says cut out the reverted shoot back to the variagated growth. But according to Ray that is the worst thing you can do. Pruning promotes vigorous growth so cutting out the reverted shoot entirely will just give you more reverted shoots. The reverted shoot is the dominant one so in order to remove its’ dominance you first remove the tip of the shoot. Then three months later return and cut the shoot back to the variagated growth. Over the three months the dominance has completely gone from the reverted shoot as the tip has been removed. So only variagated growth should now shoot keeping the integrity of the shrub.
Confused? I know whose advice I’ll be taking.
It’s three years since we moved into this house and I’ve randomly pruned the hedges and various shrubs at whatever time I got round to it. The only time I avoided was spring when the birds are nesting. So when I learnt that between July 20th and August 20th is the ideal time to prune I realised I’d been getting it wrong. As I’ve said pruning promotes vigorous growth which is the last thing you’re after when clipping a hedge, unless you fancy doing it three or four times a year. Apparently low light levels promote vegetative growth whilst the high light levels of midsummer are dominated by the plant’s sexual hormones. So the best time to prune is midsummer if you want to avoid vigorous regrowth.
Another confusing thing in my books is the pictures of sloping cuts all over the pruning sections. Another wrong turn, just cut straight across according to Ray, less surface area to expose to disease and also there will be a perfect ring of cadmium cells around the wound which will help the healing process. Getting a bit technical for me but it makes sense. More on pruning later in the year.
Confusing this gardening lark? Still I can’t wait to get out there this weekend and make some more mistakes!