Put down the secateurs and step away – now!

Summer is a bit like Christmas. You spend all year looking forward to it (well some do) but when it is over you just want to clear it all away and get back to normal. And here we are in autumn. I know it is the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness but I am not a fan of autumn. Yes, it is the beginning of the gardening year but to me it has always meant big changes and not always good changes – I am always fearful of autumn and am quite glad when winter starts proper.

So I totally understand when gardeners get into the garden on a sunny day and want to cut things back, clear away and get the garden ready for winter. There is something about cleaning up the garden that seems good for the soul. Old garden books will tell you to cut down herbaceous plants, dig up tender perennials and get the garden winter-ready. More modern thoughts are to leave the garden alone, to provide refuge and food for wildlife. I take a middling approach with a leaning towards having a tidy up. It is easier to have a clean up now when the garden is not frozen and before bulbs start to send up shoots.

But what you should not do is go around the garden pruning shrubs. Autumn pruning is very common and I understand the desire to tidy the place up but in most cases it does not do much good. If you want to reduce the growth on roses and fast-growing shrubs to reduce winter storm damage then fine. But do not prune them back hard. At worst it will remove flower buds on spring-flowering shrubs and at best it may promote soft new growth on plants if we get a mild spell, to be damaged by later frosts.

We all know the rules: prune spring-flowering shrubs after flowering, prune late-flowering shrubs in spring and those tricky mid-summer-flowering shrubs (such as philadelphus – mock orange) get a renewal prune and light tidy up in midsummer, after flowering. Hedges usually get pruned in August unless they are the type that grows all the time in which case they need clipping several times a year.

I know it is hard to resist the temptation to trim ribes and forsythia but try – hard. Do it after flowering.

Not everyone gets it right. This week I was reading in a gardening mag; ‘Pruning the mock orange, which didn’t flower much this year, is the first job.’  Well guess what! It won’t flower much next year either!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

,

2 Comments on “Put down the secateurs and step away – now!”

  1. derrickjknight
    October 21, 2019 at 9:19 am #

    You may have followed the adventures of our adopted robin, Nugget. He enjoys helping/hindering the autumn tidying up.

  2. tonytomeo
    October 31, 2019 at 4:55 am #

    Most of our pruning of what does not bloom in spring actually gets done in winter, just because we do not want to stimulate new grown in winter by pruning in autumn. Winters are very mild here. Hydrangeas might get pruned early only because they start to grow early regardless. Sadly, forsythia got pruned in winter last year because it needed to be moved. I bloomed decently anyway, and then got pruned more thoroughly.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sweetgum and Pines

gardening in the North Carolina piedmont

Ravenscourt Gardens

Learning life's lessons in the garden!

RMW: the blog

Roslyn's photography, art, cats, exploring, writing, life

Paddy Tobin, An Irish Gardener

Our garden, gardens visited, occasional thoughts and book reviews

AltroVerde

un altro blog sul giardinaggio...

vegetablurb

four decades of organic vegetable gardening and barely a clue

The Long Garden Path

A walk round the Estate!

Botanical Journey from the South

Photographic Journals from the South

Flowery Prose

Welcome to Flowery Prose! Growing words about gardening, writing, and outdoors pursuits in Alberta, Canada.

ontheedgegardening

Gardening on the edge of a cliff

Uprooted Magnolia

I'm Leah, a freelance Photographer born and raised in Macon, GA, USA. I spent 8 years in the wild west and this is my photo journal on life, love, and the spirit of Wyoming. Welcome to Uprooted Magnolia.

Interesting Literature

A Library of Literary Interestingness

Garden Variety

A Gardening, Outdoor Lifestyle and Organic Food & Drink Blog

For the Love of Iris

Articles, Tips and Notes from Schreiner's Iris Gardens

One Bean Row

Words and pictures from an Irish garden by Jane Powers

Plant Heritage

We are working to conserve the nations garden plants for people to use and enjoy today and tomorrow

HERITAGE IRISES

An English persons experience of living and gardening in Ireland

%d bloggers like this: