Peter Cun­dall:

Give your gar­den a sum­mer “hair­cut”.

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TASSIE LIVING -

Give trees and shrubs a sum­mer ‘hair­cut’ and not only will they look bet­ter but you will also reap the re­wards with health­ier, hap­pier plants, writes Peter Cun­dall

THE rea­son we prune many trees and shrubs in sum­mer is be­cause it gets rid of weak or ex­hausted branches, en­ables bet­ter air cir­cu­la­tion, and al­lows in more sun­light to ripen flow­er­ing wood.

Take wis­te­rias, for ex­am­ple. At this time of the year most are a tan­gled mess of use­less, whippy branches. All cur­rent sea­son’s growth can now be cut back very hard so only short stems re­main, each about a third of a me­tre long and with about six leaves.

Old, ne­glected wis­te­ria vines are full of non-flow­er­ing, twisted old branches. They too can be cut out com­pletely, al­ways at the point from where they emerge from the main frame­work.

Wis­te­rias are vig­or­ous vines, so ad­di­tional prun­ing may be needed dur­ing the next few weeks to cut back any re­growth. The ex­tra sun­light ripens young branches and en­cour­ages the de­vel­op­ment of more flow­er­ing buds, eas­ily iden­ti­fied be­cause they are fat and al­most round.

In July, all sum­mer-pruned stems can be cut back again to just above the flower buds.

This dou­ble prun­ing treat­ment en­sures more scented flow­ers that are no longer half-hid­den in among the fo­liage, thus pro­vid­ing even more spec­tac­u­lar dis­plays in spring.

Many multi-stemmed flow­er­ing shrubs can also be pruned this month. Forsythia plants are cov­ered with golden bells in late win­ter and early spring. Flow­er­ing is im­proved when old, con­gested plants are thinned dur­ing ac­tive growth.

It is a sim­ple, easy job to se­lect two or three of the thick­est, old­est stems and cut them off just above the ground. This stim­u­lates plenty of young, vig­or­ous flow­er­ing shoots, which come into bloom around Au­gust.

An­other out­stand­ing, multi-stemmed flow­er­ing shrub is Deutzia “Pride of Rochester’’. Grow­ing to three me­tres in height, it becomes to­tally cov­ered, top to bot­tom, with white, slightly fluffy

Flow­er­ing is im­proved when old, con­gested plants are thinned dur­ing ac­tive growth

blos­soms ev­ery Novem­ber.

It also thrives af­ter a good sum­mer prun­ing, es­pe­cially cut­ting the old­est branches back al­most to soil level. All young branches are best left un­pruned.

Other spring and early sum­mer flow­er­ing shrubs that thrive af­ter old ex­hausted branches are cut out in­clude Mock Or­ange blos­som (Philadel­phus vir­ginal), Spi­raea can­tonien­sis, S. An­thony Waterer, and most va­ri­eties of vibur­num.

Af­ter prun­ing, give each shrub a deep, slow wa­ter­ing and a gen­er­ous sprin­kling of blood and bone fer­tiliser.

In the fruit gar­den, all rasp­berry canes that have car­ried fruit will have now with­ered, while new, re­place­ment canes will have sprung up around them. It is es­sen­tial that all dead canes be cut off at ground level and dragged clear. This helps re­duce dis­eases and hid­ing places for pests.

The re­main­ing healthy canes can then be tied to­gether in loose bun­dles for mu­tual sup­port.

The same treat­ment is car­ried out for all bram­bles af­ter fruit­ing has fin­ished, es­pe­cially thorn­less black­berry, boy­sen­berry and lo­gan­berry. These are semi-climbers and the long, whippy re­place­ment canes should also be loosely tied to­gether and se­cured to one side of the sup­port­ing frame or wires.

Black­cur­rant bushes can also be pruned heav­ily af­ter all fruit has been har­vested. All old branches are eas­ily iden­ti­fied be­cause they are al­most black and heav­ily in­fested with bor­ers. Cut them off, right to the ground, and leave young, green branches to grow on.

Red­cur­rants are pruned by re­mov­ing dead branches and cut­ting back younger growth by about a quar­ter.

Goose­berry bushes are long-lived. Sum­mer prun­ing con­sists of cut­ting out all dead or dis­eased branches and all low­grow­ing shoots. Prune again in win­ter to shorten side-shoots to four buds.

The main prun­ing of apri­cot trees is al­ways af­ter all fruit has been har­vested. It con­sists of cut­ting out all in­ward-growth branches to open up canopy cen­tres. All young growth that has oc­curred since spring can now be cut back by half.

Af­ter all prun­ing work, be sure to rake up fallen branches and other pruned ma­te­rial and take well clear to be ei­ther burned when safe to do so, or carted to the near­est tip site.

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