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Dead heading and summer pruning on roses

05a8474a 812c 4520 be32 a4228822c018 9665 000006fe01c2c74f file Dead heading and summer pruning on roses

Well that’s the first and only time that I shall use the word dead heading in this blog, it’s such a negative word so let’s use a more positive one that describes the old flowers perfect, spent bloom removal, see more up lifting straight away!

05a8474a 812c 4520 be32 a4228822c018 9665 000006fe01c2c74f file Dead heading and summer pruning on roses

I have also now labelled it as part of summer pruning of roses. I prefer to do the main prune during the late winter months but doing a little bit of summer pruning can help the plant to become stronger, healthier plants.

First of all, spent bloom removal is really just needed on repeat flowering roses to encourage more flowers to appear and also open a little quicker. With once flowering roses, there’s no real need to remove the old blooms but just a cosmetic reasons

Removing the blooms is pretty easy,

with the multi headed flowering type of roses you can thin out the spent blooms as they finish or wait until the whole floret has finish and then prune back down to the first full set of leaves. Why the first set of leaves? Well can it’s just helping to plant to maximise the water and nutrients by removing a section of wood that is going to die back down to that bud anyway. It is also well worth looking at the plant and seeing where it wants to be cut, some roses are very helpful and start sending up a new shoot where it wants to regrow.

2552824e 65ca 47d5 a068 7c590287c908 9665 000006feca903af7 file Dead heading and summer pruning on roses

Removing the odd flower in the middle of a bunch of flowers

84ef0e74 c936 4fd8 87bd 55b51efc65c2 9665 000006ff607b6f9f file Dead heading and summer pruning on roses

Or taking the spent bloom down to the first full leaf

img 3036 Dead heading and summer pruning on rosesimg 3038 Dead heading and summer pruning on roses

This rose shows that perfectly and you can see I have trimmed it down to just above with new shoot.

I also tend to carry out a slightly heavier spent bloom removal or indeed summer pruning of roses that have produced stems that are to thin to hold the weight of the flowers. This is tends to happen on the once flowering roses and the English rose type and the simple way to reduce the weight on these branches, is to remove the spent bloom to a lower bud and even to thin out the branches as below. This help to lift the branches off the ground

img 3030 Dead heading and summer pruning on roses

A branch hanging over with the weight of the flowers

img 3032 Dead heading and summer pruning on roses

To help to reduce the weight I am thinning out some of the stems

img 3033 Dead heading and summer pruning on roses

And then trimming back the spent blooms a little harder

img 3035 Dead heading and summer pruning on roses

The finished branch with weight reduced

The other part of summer pruning is to remove any dead branches and any branches at the base of the plant that have simply done nothing since pruning in the winter. Yes it could be done in the winter but removing these bits of wood now again helps the plant to use the water and nutrients more efficiently. It also can improve air flow though the plant and help to reduce fungal infections img 3026 Dead heading and summer pruning on rosesimg 3025 Dead heading and summer pruning on roses

This is the type of growth I am talking about

img 3027 1 Dead heading and summer pruning on roses

The finished cleaned plant

Equipment wise I tend to use garden snips sold by Niwaki, to carry out spent bloom removal, mainly as the thinner points and lightness makes them ideal tool to use. secateurs are brilliant for the heavier form of summer pruning, I carry both using this great double holster

504a868b 1b57 455e b99d e4357d2274de 9665 000006ffed933eb5 file Dead heading and summer pruning on roses

Well I hope you enjoyed this blog on summer pruning of summer roses

 Dead heading and summer pruning on roses
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Pruning back dogwoods/Cornus for stem colour

The dogwoods or the various forms of Cornus make a massive impact in the garden for the winter months. Their highly coloured stems really shine out in the winter light. The best colour comes from the youngest of growth and if you are growing them for just the winter colours, now is the time to prune them.

It is an easy job and to carry it it you may need a pruning saw, a pair of secateurs, a pair of loppers, gloves and eye protection. It may also be worth catching up with my blogs on pruning cuts to help you during the task. Part 1 is here, part 2 here and part 3 here.

They are 3 ways to prune these dogwoods, first way is to do nothing and let them grow to their big size, second way is to coppice them to the ground and allow all new grow for next winter, main drawback is that you don’t get any flowers on them, the last way is to every 2 years thin out half the plant and leave the one year old stems in to flower, the stem colour isn’t as rich in theses 2yr old stems but it’s ok

This is the step by step part of pruning the dogwoods down as per coppicing them.

img 2357 Pruning back dogwoods/Cornus  for stem colour

img 2358 Pruning back dogwoods/Cornus  for stem colour

1) the main plant, this ones not been touched for a few years and you can see the bottom is full of old stems and dead wood, also notice how green and brown these older stems look, no where near the bright red of the younger Cornus stems

img 2359 Pruning back dogwoods/Cornus  for stem colourimg 2361 Pruning back dogwoods/Cornus  for stem colour

2) I try to get these old stems down to about 150-200mm if I can but finding the buds can be a slight problem. They are opposite meaning you they are normally in a straight line I have tried to mark some of the buds off in the above pictures to give you a rough idea of what they look like

img 2362 Pruning back dogwoods/Cornus  for stem colourimg 2363 Pruning back dogwoods/Cornus  for stem colour

3) now as they are opposite buds they need a straight cut just above the buds and on Plants this size I just use the saw and then the secateurs for the smaller stems. There are too many stems of this plant, so have removed some down to the base of the plant and cut the dead wood out as well.

img 2364 Pruning back dogwoods/Cornus  for stem colour

4) The finished coppiced dogwood.

This is the other way by leaving some of the 1 year old stems in and removing the older 2yr old stems, this leaves the plant to flower later on in the year

img 2388 Pruning back dogwoods/Cornus  for stem colour

This is the plant before I started pruning

img 2390 Pruning back dogwoods/Cornus  for stem colour

You can see I am thinning down the older stems leaving the young stems

img 2391 Pruning back dogwoods/Cornus  for stem colour

And once I have finished you can see all young 1year old stems left, these will flower and be removed this time next year and the new shoots made in the summer

There we go, I hope that helps you to get the best from your dogwoods.

There is also a very good use for some of the spent prunings but we will look at that next week!

cornus alba sibrica ruby Pruning back dogwoods/Cornus  for stem colour

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Pruning cuts, how to sharpen and useful bits n bobs. part 3

img 2328 Pruning cuts, how to sharpen and useful bits n bobs.   part 3

Sorry it’s been a while since the last part was published, this 3rd part is looking at one of the most important section of pruning, sharpening your secateurs, all the other sundries that I use to keep my equipment working well and also any little extra things I find useful little aids both for getting to the plants and making my life easier.

img 1287 Pruning cuts, how to sharpen and useful bits n bobs.   part 3

Sharpening is an easy job to do if you keep on top of it. Getting the right sharpening stone is always important and for years I used oil stones but they are dirty and oily. Getting of great quality wet stones that use water for lubricant during sharping was pretty hard until Niwaki released their water stones a few years ago. The concave bottom is ideal for guiding over the edge of the secateurs at the right angle and keeping them sharp. img 2332 Pruning cuts, how to sharpen and useful bits n bobs.   part 3These water stones just need to be soaked in water for 10minutes and then dipped in during use nice and easy and clean.

img 2334 Pruning cuts, how to sharpen and useful bits n bobs.   part 3when sharpening its well worth holding the secateurs nice and firmly like this

img 2335 Pruning cuts, how to sharpen and useful bits n bobs.   part 3To get the angle right I just line it up with the exact angle it’s been made at

I made a small video showing how you use the concave edge on the sharpening stone to follow the edge on the secateurs

img 2336 Pruning cuts, how to sharpen and useful bits n bobs.   part 3

It is also a good idea to use the flat side of the sharpening stone on the other side of the blade to take off any blurs and unevenness you may have. Instead of going in flat, go at a slight angle as this will a stronger axe shape cutting edge that will hold its edge for a little longer

Then just test it to make sure they are sharp enough, here’s a leaf I am cutting though

Generally speaking I use the 1000 grade stone to keep an edge and the 220 if I manage to hit wire or needs a heavier sharpen.

It’s worth sharpening them after about half a days pruning, you will be surprised how quick it is to do. To test how sharp they are, either try shaving your arm or the safer action of cutting a leaf in half!

img 2328 Pruning cuts, how to sharpen and useful bits n bobs.   part 3

I do have a few bits n bobs I use

1) is my peak cap, this is ideal to stop or slow down branches hitting you in the face or if you are lucky like me and going thin on top, protects your head from thorns. Also useful in shading eyes from the sun when it’s shining in your eyes

2) first aid kit! Accidents happen and it’s best to be prepared in case it does, loads of different shape plasters and eye wash is ideal as are a fine pair of twizzers to get out fine thorns

3) my small bag, this is ideal for holding secateurs and string if I am pruning in the summer and wearing shorts and Tshirt, also ideal for holding string when I have nowhere else to put it.

4 + 7) camellia oil, I wish it was for my hair but those days are long gone! I use this Niwaki product to oil my secateurs and other hand tools. I like using the more natural product than oil and find this idea for use. Number 7 is the applicator for applying it to the blade

5) Trust Jake at Niwaki to be the first to bring out a double holster that holds both secateurs and pruning saw. Simply ideal if I am not wearing my Genus trousers with their knife proof saw and secateur pockets. You can buy a handy clip to easily add it to your belt too.

6) cleen me, ok sadly the translation from Japanese to English went a little wrong but the cleen block is great to remove sap and dirt from your secateurs, add a little camellia oil and it will remove most stubborn sap deposits, again another excellent Niwaki product

8) nutscene twine. At this moment of time, reducing use of plastics is a big thing, nutscene is a great natural product made in Scotland and it the only thing I use to tie up plants, no need for rubber or plastic ties

One thing I left off is eye protection, when pruning, you should really wear safety eye wear to protect your eyes, that said I need to listen to my own advice!

Please note I am not sponsored by Niwaki but I use their equipment because I feel it’s the best out there, no other reason

Gloves are the next big thing, I do a lot of rose pruning and other plants that like to return the favour, some like Berberis, blackthorn can leave you with wounds that take a lot of time to heal over, then there’s the risk of catching tetanus and septicaemia. All good reasons to wear the right gloves, so here’s some of the ones I use

img 2330 1 Pruning cuts, how to sharpen and useful bits n bobs.   part 3

1+2) Goldleaf range of gloves are superb, they are made from deer hide and are very flexible and tough wearing, very hard to get a thorn though them! I use a few of their gloves, 1) is the winter touch, ideal for the cold days of winter and 2) are the dry touch, very happy to wear both gloves

3) a pair of nitrile gloves, simple, cheap and ideal for being about to work in and tie in Plants. I use these with thornless plants

4) three finger framed gloves. These are great! I use them for pruning all types of climbing plants as you have 3 fingers (ok 2 fingers and 1 thumb) open so you can tie in plants, the tough leather band across the knuckles means you can push the Rose into the wire to tie it tighter without getting any thorns in your fingers. Great little pair of gloves or they would be if I could find the other one in the back of the van!

That’s it for this series, I hope you enjoyed it and it has helped you a little bit with your pruning

Until next time, happy pruning

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Pegging down roses

rosa magna charta1 Pegging down roses

rosa magna charta1 Pegging down roses

Rosa Magna Carta here flowering after being pegged down

Pegging down roses is a method used with some bush roses that produce large canes during the summer. These large tall canes can be pruned down in height to the same height of the bush but a far better way is to peg these long shoots down. This arched stem then produces a lot more flowers on the stem compared to just straight pruning. This happens of any rose stem that it is arched as it encourages the buds on top to break.

Not all roses that produce these large and tall canes in one growing season that come from the base of the rose, can be pegged down. Roses like Bourbons, Hybrid perpetuals, some moss roses like William Lobb, some of the English roses can work well as well. The only way to find out if your rose would be suitable for pegging down, is to grab the end and try it! Just grab the growing tip and slowly try and arch it over. If it snaps at the base or spilts, then the Rose isn’t suitable for pegging down! If it does then all well and good

img 2119 Pegging down roses

The next stage is to get the materials and equipment ready to start. I use bamboo canes (called sticks from now on to avoid confusion!) cut down to roughly 300mm but hazel will work as well. If you are in a stony site then a hammer may also be useful. Next is some 3ply green twine, I use Nutscene and lastly of course you need a pair of secateurs.

img 2121 Pegging down rosesimg 2122 Pegging down roses

Next I prepare the stick by wrapping the string on top of its self and tie it off with an over hand knot, leaving the tag at least 100mm long

img 2124 Pegging down roses

Next I tie the stick to the rose cane using an over hand knot.Then I pull the Rose cane over gently until I get the arch the right size and then push the stick into the ground and cut the string so it is tidy

img 2125 Pegging down roses

And the job is done! Other canes can be tied over and around as well, there’s no limit on how many you can peg down, just depends on the canes you have available.

You will get at least one years flowering like this, if you are lucky maybe 2, this one in my back garden, I redo each year.

There we have it, a nice and simple job to do and one that really does give a great effect if you add underplanting in between the canes as well.

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Pruning cuts, how to get them right. Part 2

img 1713 Pruning cuts, how to get them right. Part 2

Well one the last part, we looked at the science behind making pruning cuts and best ways of pruning using secateurs and loppers, this week we shall look at using the power horse of hand tools, yes the pruning saw! So what is a pruning saw and how does it differ from say a carpentry saw? Well it’s a much stiffer blade that those types of saws and most of the time cut on the pull. Some can be folded up to fit into your pocket or a fixed blade. Pruning saws are used to prune anything bigger than 15mm and up to well as big as you can cut! A bit like using secateurs, theres no right or wrong ways but there’s always better ways to reduce damage or risks to the tree or plants. First thing is to get the sharpest pruning saw you can get with a sharp clean blade, over the years I have found Silky pruning saws the sharpest and even with these, I tend to change the blade every year so I am using the sharpest I can.

img 1730 Pruning cuts, how to get them right. Part 2

Now the angles of cut depending if the buds are alternate or oppersite are the same as for using secateurs on wood up to a couple of years old but they are a little more difficult to see in the older wood, almost looking for wrinkles in the Wood is almost a sign that buds are there hidden. That said in wood over 25mm thick, I prefer to do a straight cut across. The reasons are simple, the surface area on straight cuts are much smaller than cuts made at an angle, which means the plant has a smaller area to heal over. That even means on the junction of bigger branches. The pruning cut on these bigger branches to the main stem used to be done at an angle on the stem, the angle of the cut was always done just above the ridges or collar on the stem. It was thought these would heal quicker but it’s not really the case as the straight cut will heal a lot sooner.

Removing larger stems using a pruning saw is always best done in stages to reduce the chances of the branches tearing down the stem and causing a bigger damage for the plant to repair. Best way is to reduce the weight of the branch by either putting a cut on the underside of the branch to about a 1/5th of the width of the branch and at least 300mm from the trunk and then the main cut about 50mm above this. If you leave a bigger gap, the branch tends to trap itself in the bottom cut and doesn’t fall cleanly. The branch should snap cleanly off and fall down to the ground, then you finish off the cut neatly on the main stem . That cut is ideal for most pruning cuts. If there’s something underneath you that you don’t want the branch to drop off suddenly and hit, you can cut all the way though in one cut. This at times can cause a tear underneath the stems so I would make this cut at least 1000mm from the main stem in case the cut tears down. After this cut has been made and the branch had fallen down or been grabbed, the next cut needs to lighten the weight on the branch by cutting it down to 500mm before cutting the branch off at the main stem. All the cuts are pictured below

Last main pruning cut is removing stems from the base of shrubs and the key this here is to get the cuts as low as possible. Any stubs left will make the base of the plant look ugly and also mean next time you cut a stem out, you can’t get close to the base and it ends up even more snaggy

one other thing I don’t do is paint the cut area with wound paint. I prefer to let the wound heal naturally and found that the treatment tends to seal in the moisture and cause rot quicker

img 1720 Pruning cuts, how to get them right. Part 2

Picture of a clean drop pruning cut

img 1724 Pruning cuts, how to get them right. Part 2img 1726 Pruning cuts, how to get them right. Part 2

How it worked

img 1705 Pruning cuts, how to get them right. Part 2

Cutting straight through

img 1709 Pruning cuts, how to get them right. Part 2img 1710 Pruning cuts, how to get them right. Part 2

A straight though cut that shows the damage that it can cause

img 1703 Pruning cuts, how to get them right. Part 2

The growing collar as described in text

img 1728 Pruning cuts, how to get them right. Part 2img 1729 Pruning cuts, how to get them right. Part 2

Taking the stump back to the tree at the smallest point, if you had gone back harder, it will result in a larger wound and will take longer to heal

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Pruning cuts-how to get them right! Part 1.

img 0590 Pruning cuts how to get them right! Part 1.

It’s the time of year we all start pruning the dormant summer and autumn flowering shrubs and trees and getting the pruning cuts can be crucial for some plants for so many reasons. First of all you have to remember that you are being a surgeon on the plant and you would hate to have someone cutting you up with a blunt tool so make sure the tool you are using is not only sharp (will be featuring a bit of sharpening soon) but clean as well, if in doubt, just spray it with so household cleaning product that kills 99.9% of all know germs dead! You know the one I mean.

img 1287 Pruning cuts how to get them right! Part 1.

Now one thing to remember is that all plants don’t heal themselves but work to reduce the damaged area to stop fungi and other diseases entering the plant. The plant first of chemical process that reduces the risk of the wound becoming infected and then it callus over in time using callus cell in the stems of the plant. This all depends on the type of shrub or tree you are pruning. Some plants can have very thin bark with a thinner layer of callus cells that can mean the cut takes much longer to heal, roses and beech trees are good examples of this. There is a difference on age of the wood too, the younger twiggy wood doesn’t heal at the wound but near the next available bud. Again that something worth remembering for in a bit.

For this next bit, I am focusing on using secateurs and loppers and will do a bit of using saws later.

img 1613 Pruning cuts how to get them right! Part 1.

First thing to look for is whether the buds are opposite each other or alternate (see pictures) this does change the angle of the cut. With plants that buds are opposite, its best to cut level just top of the buds so basically you don’t damage them. The plant will boast either one or both these buds into life in the spring. Now with alternate buds, you are looking at taking a sloping cut away just above the bud and angled so the bud is at the top of the slope. Some people think that you do that to allow the water to drain away but that’s not the main reason why, it’s done like that so the plant pushes the sap into that bud and allows that bud to break. The cut should be ideally no more than 10mm above the bud as any more above it can result in die back and the stem dying back past that next bud and down to the next, leaving more dead wood in the plant to attract in diseases. One thing to remember though, no one can get it right all the time, not even us professionals, the idea is to aim to get it right most times and try and achieve at least 80% good cuts. Hopefully the pictures below will explain a bit more.

img 1578 Pruning cuts how to get them right! Part 1.

A rose has alternative buds, as you can see there’s no bud opposite

img 1579 1 Pruning cuts how to get them right! Part 1.

While this Hydrangea has its buds opposite each other

img 1594 Pruning cuts how to get them right! Part 1.

When pruning plants with opposite buds, you aim for a level cut just above the top of the bud

img 0586 Pruning cuts how to get them right! Part 1.

This picture shows the dieback from poorly angled cuts for a rose that has alternate buds. notice the church window of doom and also the damage down into the next bud at times

img 0590 Pruning cuts how to get them right! Part 1.

The alternate bud cut at the right angle with the blue lines showing what is happening to the sap and how it pushes it towards the bud to encourage that one to break.

Well that’s the end of the first part, next time we shall look at using a pruning saw and how to make the bigger cuts with that.

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Cutting back Hellebores

015 Cutting back Hellebores

As we head towards Christmas, one of my last jobs I like to do in the garden is remove the leaves on helleborus orientalis and H. x hybridus type hybrids. These are the hellebores that shoot up the flower buds from the base of the plant while others like H.niger, H.argufolius, H x sternii etc all bear the flowers on the leave stems and these should be cut back when they have finished flowering. Helleborus orientalis are also know as Christmas roses as they start flowering roundabout Christmas time and carry on to March. Cutting back the Hellebores helps to show the flowers off much better then they bloom, on some forms, the flowers can be hidden from view by the leaves and again it makes them visible. Another advantage of pruning them back now is removing the old leaves reduces the chances of the new foliage getting hellebore leaf spot (Microsphaeropsis hellebori).

Here’s my step by step guide

img 1406 1 Cutting back Hellebores

1)A group of Hellebores ready to cut back

img 1408 Cutting back Hellebores

2) pull back the leaves to show the crown of the plant

img 1429 1 Cutting back Hellebores

3) the red circled bits are the flower buds coming up, these are the ones you want to avoid cutting with the secateurs.

img 1409 Cutting back Hellebores

4) now carefully start cutting down the stems as close to the ground as you can

img 1418 2 Cutting back Hellebores

5) I find it best to clear any old stems and leaves out from the crown of the plant as I am cutting back as it makes it clearer to see what I am cutting back and avoiding the buds

img 1425 2 Cutting back Hellebores

6) the finished clump!

015 1 Cutting back Hellebores

6) and in flower!

It’s a nice and easy job to do and one perfect for this weekend!

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Plant of the week- Hydrangea paniculata ‘Floribunda’ 

hydrangea paniculata florbunda 3 Plant of the week  Hydrangea paniculata Floribunda 

hydrangea paniculata florbunda 2 Plant of the week  Hydrangea paniculata Floribunda 
Late summer and early autumn is the time for these beautiful shrubs when they delight us this displays of whites and pinks, indeed some forms fade from white into pinks as the season draws on. Hydrangea paniculata is a Medium to large shrub, native to the far eastern countries of Japan, China and Taiwan and was introduced into cultivation in 1861. The form ‘Floribunda’ is a great cultivar, first cultivated in 1867. This cultivar has great long panicles that are a little more narrow than other forms, but really come into their best around now. Like all hydrangea, the skeletons hold on the plant right up to the spring and can be enjoyed with light sprinkling of frost 

hydrangea paniculata florbunda 3 Plant of the week  Hydrangea paniculata Floribunda 
It is pretty easy to grow, it can be grown in most soils as long it’s is a good fertile soil that holds a little bit of moisture. Like all hydrangeas they like a shady spot in the garden to get the best out of them.

Looking after them is pretty easy, to keep their size down a little, they can be pruned in February by reducing the last years growth down to about 5 buds, this will give you a couple of buds spare if we did a late frost, which can damage the delicate young shoots. After pruning, a feed of vitax Q4 and a mulch of compost is all they need.

This form is pretty wide spread and can be found in great gardens, Ines like RHS Wisley and Sir Harold Hillier Gardens. It is also widely available from most nurseries 

hydrangea paniculata florbunda Plant of the week  Hydrangea paniculata Floribunda 

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Hedge trimming tips 

20151013 131734487 ios Hedge trimming tips 

Well it's the time of the year when all you can hear is the roar of petrol hedgecutters  or the buzz buzz of the electric hedge cutters echoing around the neighbourhood. Indeed now is an ideal time to tidy up your hedges, most of the birds would of finished nesting (apart from pigeons!) and the plants themselves have finished their main growth spurt for the year and if trimmed now, will delightfully hold their shape and form until they start growing away next spring, giving our gardens both shape and structure during the shortened days of winter, after all the herbecous plants have died down and the deciduous shrubs have lost their leaves

Now this isn't a step by step guide but just a few little things that I do and have found, that makes the job a little easier and safer

Check the hedge out first.

We all walk by the hedges at all times don't we and the chances are you have cut the hedge before. But a lot of things can happen in a year, just have a look though the hedge checking for bottles, cans, odd bits of metal thrown in, footballs etc anything that could damage the blades of the cutters. Also see if there's any new holes or dips appeared in the ground near the hedge, may save a twisted ankle once the dip is covered up in clippings and you find it again! Lastly get a big stick (take handle will do) and smack it along the hedge, this isn't an old fashioned gardners tradition to produce a good crop next year but a way to check there are no birds nesting or even worse no wasp nests in there! Nothing worse that being surrounded by pesky 'flies' up a stepladder and finding out there are wasps!

Sharpen the blades. 

No matter what hedge cutter you use, whether it's electric, battery or petrol, it will always cut much better and easier with sharp blades and leave a much cleaner finish to the hedge. If you don't want to do it yourself, most garden machinery dealers will do it for you, for a small cost. Otherwise you can easily do it for yourself using a diamond file like the ones sold by Niwaki. Once your blades are nice and sharp, do the fine hedges like Yew, Box first before moving on the rougher stuff like hawthorn, beech, holly etc. The finer stuff do need sharper blades and done first they will avoid the dulling that happens with time and when doing the rougher hedges

Where to start?

First of work out the way you like to work, my natural working way is left to right, so I will start on the left hand side. I then cut from bottom to top, this helps to allow foliage to fall down once it's been cut unheeded and not pulling any other bits out with its weight. If there's rather a lot of foliage to get though, will do a rough cut first to remove the bulk before doing a finer one to finish. Once the side is done, I then start of the top, on the right hand side or just where I have finished doing the side. Then I cut the closest bit to me, working my way across, sweeping the clippings off the edge as I go.

Cut close!

When cutting an old established hedge, one that I have trimmed before or one cut last year, I always try and cut as close to the last years cut as possible, ideally to within a couple of mm of those last cuts, yes it may leave the hedge looking a little barer than a lighter trim but it will help to keep the hedge tighter and more compact within the space, think about it, leaving 10mm new growth on each side every year for the new ten years will make the hedge 200mm wider, 50mm would be 1000m or a metre! 2mm would just 40mm. Big big differences. img 0440 Hedge trimming tips 

large leaved shrubs  These are shrubs like Bay, cherry Laurel, tradionally are done by hand using secatuers as the use of hedge cutters tend to tear the leaves, cutting by hand is pretty time comsuing and lets be honest, we dont all have the time to do it by hand. using the hedge cutters will leave the leafs ragged but the new ones will soon come though ok. only word of warning when using a hedge cutter on cherry laurel, the leaves do contain amount of  cyanide, which on a hot day can cause a bad headache or feeling sick, indeed there have been cases of gardeners being sacked from being drunk, when indeed it was cyanide poisoning from the fumes from the laurel leaves when being cut on a very hot day.

img 0424 1 Hedge trimming tips 

Use the right access equipment.
It so much easy to get hold of access equipment now, either though hiring or buying. I am lucky, being a professional gardener, I own a couple sets of tripod ladders, a 20ft access tower and a stepping stool, all of which cover any height needs I have. It's not worth the risk of leaning a ladder into the hedge or grabbing the patio chair and doing a little balancing dance whilst standing on it. Hedge cutters are pretty horrid things to fall on and they do hurt! Just try and find the right bit of gear to suit your garden and either make a long term investment or hire in. One other thing is getting your cutters up to your working height, when working on step ladders, platforms etc, you ideally need 3 points of contact from your body to the equipment, again makes carrying anything up the equipment a little iffy. I have a couple of lengths of rope with a couple of karabiners tied to each end, I attach one to the tool and hold the other one whilst climbing up and then attach it to the ladder, platform when I get to the working height and just pull up the tool, un hitch, use and lower back down when finished .

 

Clean off my tools.

End of each day, I will brush off any loose leaves, give the blades an oil, that will help to soften any sap build up on the blades, then remove the build up using the crean block or a wooden scraper, spray with Dettol to kill off 99.5% of all know germs or indeed fungus like box blight and plant virus and then spray once more with WD-40. I then know the equipment is as clean and disease free as I can make it.

Look back.  

its always worth taking a step backwards to make sure the hedge is pretty level and the sides are pretty level, theres no bit missed and its all looking good. its also a damn fine time to admire your handy work!sdc10017 Hedge trimming tips 

I hope you have found the above tips useful and happy hedge cutting

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Pruning once flowering rambling roses

img 2858 Pruning once flowering rambling roses

Pruning roses always seem to have a mist of confusion around them, no matter where I go, who I talk too or indeed listen too, roses are one plant that leaves them confused when it comes to pruning. What to prune, when to prune, taking too much off, not taking enough off. It’s no wonder really with so much Conflicting advice around in books, the internet, magazines and on telly. Hopefully over the next couple of years, I will go through my own methods of pruning and hopefully explain how I get the best from the roses I look after and hopefully make it a little clearer! 
To prune any plant no matter what it is, you have to know not only what it is, how it flowers and grows but also what you want from it. Now the first two I can help with but the 3rd is down to you to decide. First of all what it is the difference between rambling and climbing roses, this is the hardest part for most people, so many times I get asked what is the difference between a rambler and a climber. A climbing rose is basically a shrub or bush rose that grows too big to be grown without any support, as a shrub or bush rose it needs a framework of wood 2+years old in the plant to allow it to flower the best. While a rambler is the true climber, it uses long growths to scrabble over anything it’s path whether it’s a tree, building, rock face or even the ground. These new growths can be up to 25ft in one year depending on the variety grown. These new stems are the best for producing flowers the following year, i.e. Wood that’s  1 year old at time of flowering. The 2nd year old wood tends to produce smaller flowers on the growths, but also produces new longer stems further from the base which maybe too long to use on a frame or a structure. These long and mainly flexible current growing stems makes them ideal for wrapping around features like poles, ropes and arches. This also encourages the rose to flower from the bottom to the top. There are 2 types of ramblers, the repeat flowering and the once flowering. It is the once flowering ones we are looking at during this blog. Again once flowering rambling can be divided up into 2 types, those who produce hips and those that don’t. Pruning is the same for both, just the hip forming ones can be done in February while the none hip forms can be done now or once they have flowered. Reason being that all the flowering wood is removed to encourage these new growths to grow even more. This is because with removing the flowered wood, it puts more effort and energy into the new wood and this will grow even more  after pruning. That said a weekly feed of liquid seaweed and a handful of vitax Q4 after pruning will help it to grow even more. I hope the picture guide will help explain it even more 

img 0175 Pruning once flowering rambling roses
The rambling rose once it’s finished flowering showing both flowered wood and new growth
img 0176 Pruning once flowering rambling roses
The new growth! This is what you want! Please please please don’t cut these off, try and tie in during the season before flowering
img 0185 1 Pruning once flowering rambling roses
Prune back the flowered stems to a nice new growth, always find its best to do this for all stems can thin out older ones or not as good ones after you have finished and have a chance to review what’s left
img 0186 Pruning once flowering rambling roses
Once I have pruned the stem, I lay it at right angles to the base of the plant so it out of the way and all together
img 0190 Pruning once flowering rambling roses
Once all the flowered wood is pruned away, I start tying in the new growth, using the longest ones growing from the base if possible, tying them to cover as much as possible
img 0193 Pruning once flowering rambling roses
I like to use a figure of 8 knot to secure the new growth to the fixings, don’t tie it too tight or the string will dig into the plant as it grows
img 0199 Pruning once flowering rambling roses
I try and train the stems in curves to encourage as many breaks of the flower growths next year as I can, it can also be useful to cover a bigger space with the really long growths, the shorter ones I use to cover the bare patches near the base of the plant.
img 0196 Pruning once flowering rambling roses
The finished pruned plant, note the amount of waste produced, pruning like this does produce a lot of waste, all there is left to do now is feed the plant with Vitax Q4 and tie in the new growth once every 2weeks and enjoy the flowers next summer
img 2858 Pruning once flowering rambling roses
The rose flowering the following year
img 3860 Pruning once flowering rambling roses
This rambling rector is spread out more but is still pruned the same way
img 3866 Pruning once flowering rambling roses
This rambler is pruned the same way but the new growths are wrapped around the pillar, going both clock and anti-clockwise
011 Pruning once flowering rambling roses
The new growths can be turned into any shape you like and will flower well!

Really they are that easy, just a case of removing the old flowered wood and tie in the new stems, they are really as simple as that. I tend to use just my silky pruning saw, my trust Tobisho SR1 secateurs to prune and nutscene 3ply twine to tie in. 

I hope you enjoyed the blog and found it useful!