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Spent a glorious weekend gardening in my own garden and with so much to do and without so much of a drop of rain!


I have cut back my paniculata hydrangeas and the Hydrangea arborescens Annabelles down to about 10” from the ground. This will give me stronger stems and less height. If I had wanted taller plants I would have cut higher.  The mophead hydrangeas are flying and growing fast. For these I usually wait until mid to late spring but seeing so much growth on them has made me want to tend to them as well. I have deadheaded and taken out all the dead but have left the plants pretty much as they are. If you nip the ends you will end up with smaller flowers. It doesn’t matter.

Below an image of Hydrangea Paniculata Little Lime in late summer.


I also spent some time trimming my lavender hedges. Some plants have perished – these were Italian grown and so probably not so hardy. The French too have all died, try as I might each year in the hope they will survive!  The English Lavendula Hidcote is what I have in the main. I gave it a trim after it finished flowering last year and now that I see some growth and the ice grey leaves are turning to green it is prudent to give them another trim to shape and to ensure the plants stay bushy and don’t get leggy and woody. If it is growing well you can cut right into it.


The dogwoods too have had my attention. The acid green leaves just emerging are the sign to let you know to cut them down! Seems weird? The process ensures that the bright coloured stems will continue to be bright during the winter months – if left unpruned the plant becomes woody, turning from the lovely red or orange or bright green to brown and no longer resembling the plant that you bought. They can quickly become trees if not watched. Avoid cutting just the tops because this will result in a lot of top branching. The plants should grow with long stems surging from the base.

If the plants are at least two years old then I cut them every alternate year to about a foot from the ground.

This image shows Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire' with the vibrant orange stems and the new acid green emerging planted next to Carex testacea

'Prairie Fire' for a bit of a glow.


I also own a number of Physocarpus Diablo shrubs. These have burgundy leaves and flower pink. It’s a little late to prune but I did mine just now, keeping it in shape and also taking out some older stems from the base, allowing room for new to grow.


I’m seeing lots of new shoots at the base of my grasses and as lovely as they are still, it is time to make way for the spring green! I have chopped them down low and have put all the spent on the compost, chopped up.

I have finished taking down the last of dried winter stems from the perennials. By now I can see strong growth on most including salvias, penstemons, heleniums. So exciting! Nothing yet on my Agastache … always touch and go for these!  You can gauge which plants are getting crowded and so it’s a good idea to split them up. This keeps the plant healthy otherwise it will fail to flower from the centre.  The way I do it is to dig the whole plant up. Be brave and either divide it up using your sharp (and clean) spade aiming to go through it from the top or if it is just is too big use a saw. Cut it into three or four pieces and replant them in groups of odd numbers (three’s or fives). Feed with something like bonemeal and backfill with some compost.

The perennial promise! Salvia caradonna and Achilleas mingling together in early summer.

Have fun!

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