Spring pruning begins

Inspired by clear blue skies and a forecast of 61F, I grabbed the chance to get out in the garden for two hours this morning. I’m determined not to pay for it in stress later in the afternoon. Slowing down is important.

What I’ve been calling the blue slope garden is what I see when I approach my house from the street. It faces west and south, and is terribly hot and dry in the summer. It is backed by a medium-sized Magnolia grandiflora that could do with a bit of perking up, but that’s a post for another day. Because it’s so highly visible, naturally I want this garden to look good. I gathered soil samples for a much-needed soil test, and by the time I get the report it will probably be warm enough to start fertilizing.

I raked out all the fallen leaves (note to self: do this much earlier next year, as some of the plants you’re growing want excellent winter drainage, which is not exactly what mounds of wet leaves provide!) and cut back the Leymus ‘Blue Dune,’ the Perovskia atriplicifolia, and the straggly bits of Santolina that suffered from being smothered last summer by a particularly vigorous Ipomoea batatas. I trimmed back the Ruta graveolens, which is starting to show new growth. Mine tends to get rather leggy, but perhaps my soil test will guide me to better cultivation this year.

I have been reading about how to prune effectively for best displays of foliage, flowers, or fruit. According to Lee Reich, Callicarpa is one of the shrubs that benefits from pruning hard to the ground each spring. It blooms on new wood, the wood that grows in the current season, so cutting it back hard should produce very vigorous and lush new growth and loads of flowers and electric-purple berries in the fall.

I hope. Putting my faith in Mr. Reich, I took a deep breath and whacked my Callicarpas to the ground. I will be watching anxiously this spring to see whether my faith was properly invested. If not, I’ll have a ghastly hole in my planting and my nose will be firmly out of joint.

callicarpa before 2

Callicarpa ‘Issei’ before…

callicarpa after 2

Callicarpa ‘Issei’ after the whack. I need to clean up the cuts; a few are ragged. To do: sharpen my pruners!


4 thoughts on “Spring pruning begins

  1. Pingback: Different fall colors | MissingHenryMitchell

  2. Pingback: Dear Friend and Gardener: August 8, 2014 | MissingHenryMitchell

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