Monday, March 25, 2013

Encouraging growth (aka, pruning)

istinctly not my most exciting post ever: Last week, mid-March, I went about the process of pruning some of the more unruly shrubs around the yard. Today, it's snowing and there's an inch of frozen precipitation covering the buds and new shoots. Oh well? I've put together a second sheet in my spreadsheet of garden info using my favorite pruning book, the American Horticultural Society's Pruning and Training.

For the most part, pruning is about removing dead or diseased parts of the plant and encouraging growth. It's important to understand how a plant reacts to pruning in order to stimulate the growth you want. When a cut is made, the plant will react by putting energy into growing side buds on that same branch, or if you've cut back hard, by sprouting a bunch of new shoots from around the base of that cut. So, you'll want to cut back to just above a bud, so that the branch can then create a couple new branches and nice bushy growth. The book really explains this better.

The result of my tidying was a large trash bin of very prickly rose branches, yet to picked up by our wonderful local rubbish collection service. My rose bushes are tidier without dead branches cluttering up their undersides and centers (preventing light from reaching the lower branches and providing a home for mildew, bugs and other troubles), and a few of the other shrubs around the yard are less leggy and ready to fluff out with spring growth. Anyway, here's the new pruning sheet:

Next up on my list is fixing the boxwood disaster in front. I've debated between just trimming it back up into formal hedge shape and trying out some cloud pruning, but I think the former will win out. It's just so dull looking in front of the house with nothing but green hedge. If I trim up the underside enough I may be able to get some wandering jew under there, or at least a couple pots of trailing vines.

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