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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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Plant of the week- Stachyurus praecox

stachyurus praecox 4 Plant of the week  Stachyurus praecox

stachyurus praecox 3 Plant of the week  Stachyurus praecoxAt this time of year, there’s lots happening in the plant world and it’s so difficult to choose one plant of the week, then one plant just jumps out at you and screams add me add me so you do! Stachyurus praecox is indeed one of those plants. The shear beauty of the flowers will take your breathe away and rightly so!

stachyurus praecox Plant of the week  Stachyurus praecoxStachyurus praecox is indeed a native of Japan and into the Himalayas and was discovered in Japan by the great German explorer and physician Philippine Von Siebold. He discovered and introduced many of our Japanese plants that we grow in our gardens. Stachyurus praecox in its native Japan, can be found growing around the forest edges in the warmer temperate areas of Japan and is indeed know as a pioneer shrub, meaning it is one of the first plants to grow in a newly cleared areas.

stachyurus praecox 6 Plant of the week  Stachyurus praecoxThe name comes from Greek words Stachys meaning an ear of corn and oura meaning a tail, praecox means early for the early flowering. And it does flower early, in a normal year, it flowers from February to April, but this year it has only just started flowering in the past few weeks. The tiny flowers are borne on large racemes measuring up to 5″ long on some plants and in Japan, they are pollinated by bees. The shrub itself can grow up to 3m in height over 5 years or so. The mid green coloured leaves, turn in the autumn to a blaze of oranges and yellows and it is well worth growing for the autumn colour as well.

stachyurus praecox 4 Plant of the week  Stachyurus praecoxStachyurus praecox makes a great garden plant. It prefers a semi shaded or sunny spot in the garden with the soil being on the neutral to acidic side. Stachyurus praecox prefers a well drained soil but will be happy in a sandy loam and again despite what the books and internet says, it will grow away quite happy in a clay soil. As it comes from the warmer areas of Japan, it will tolerate temperatures as low as -15c but ideally to do its best for you, it does need a sheltered spot in the garden or indeed makes an unusual wall shrub.

Stachyurus praecox is also generally pest and disease free and requires a little pruning. To get the best flowers from the shrub, some feel it’s best to remove the older wood, say anything over 4yrs old. This keeps the Plants young and healthy and the flowering wood at its best. Of course you can also leave it alone, just removing the crossing stems and dead wood. It’s also pretty easy to propagate. Stachyurus praecox comes easily from seed, laying the plant and also by semi-ripe cuttings taken in late summer

Stachyurus praecox can be found in most of the bigger botanical gardens like Kew, Wisley and Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and can be brought from good Nurseries like Burncoose of Southdown and the welsh plant chocolate shop Crûg Farm

20180226 202933 Plant of the week  Stachyurus praecox
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Under planting roses part 1, the reasoning behind its

2015k Under planting roses part 1, the reasoning behind its

2015k Under planting roses part 1, the reasoning behind its

There’s so many titles I could use instead of underplanting roses, mutual enhancing planting could be one or companion planting could be another but that said it could also be just mixed border planting with roses as the main shrubs. This style isn’t new, it was started but the great Irish gardener William Robinson, who loved the English Cottage garden style, picked up by the great Gertrude Jekyll but it was the Graham Stuart Thomas that really brought this style to modern British gardens, Graham was influenced by Gertrude and William and used the walled gardens at Mottisfont to produce his finest works helped as all great artists are, by a talented young (at the time) head gardener called David Stone. These gardens do show what can be achieved by careful planing over time. Now I will get one thing straight, this blog is about how to achieve the effect, the benefits of it and how to manage the feeding of the soil. I could spend ages listing plants that go well with certain roses but that may not be your tastes and not work well in your garden.

011 Under planting roses part 1, the reasoning behind its

So why firstly go to the trouble of mixing it all up, why not just have rose beds? Very good question just need to try and answer it. Personally I am not a fan of monoculture or growing one thing in a large bed on its own, I feel it doesn’t look right for me personally but there’s other more detailed reasons other than my personal options. Mixing up the planting helps to bring in different foliage and flower shapes that help to break up the roundness of the rose flowers and shapes. These can add spikes, bells, indeed any form and shape to the pattern of the Rose and help to enhance both. Even larger flowered plants like peonies can be used with great effect with the roses. The key to whatever flower you are using is to differ from the rose in some way whether it’s size, shape or colour. Going back to the peonies for a minute, a large single Peonia works well with a semi double or a double roses as the simple ness of the peonia makes up for the complexity of the Rose and vice verse. Same with colour, matching the colours is the most important side, img 6694 Under planting roses part 1, the reasoning behind itsusing sliver foliage thoughout the bed helps to enhance most Rose flower colours but using darker coloured foliage doesn’t enhance as wide a colour spectrum. It takes time to learn what colours work well together with the roses and other underplanting and the best way is to workout what works with you in your settings, personal taste and soil type. Same again with the heights, a lot of the roses tend to grow to certain heights, Bush roses are around 2-3ft in height and shrub roses are around 3-5ft in height so it’s being careful not to have plants that are too powerful growers to take over the roses and of course vice versa.

img 1104 Under planting roses part 1, the reasoning behind itsI have seen it done with Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ used as a mass underplanting of Rosa Rugosa ‘Hansa’. The ideal was beautiful, a massive of slivery blue under the darkish red of the rose but it failed as the Nepeta form was just too strong and powerful for the roses. A much smaller form like N.fassinni would of worked well. And also with Geranium macrophyllum used as an underplanting on Bush roses, once established, there was about 10cm difference in height between the two and it looked wrong, changed it to Geranium x cantbridgense hybrids and it worked well, with this form much more smaller growing. It is a tricky job to match them up but the results can be well worth it and once you start to get your eye in, you can start evaluating most of other plants on how they will work well with roses. They can then be planted up and trailed, it works well that’s good, if not well, starting again can be the fun part. It’s also working out what will work well with your soil and local conditions as well.

bed d 05b Under planting roses part 1, the reasoning behind itsOf course it’s not just getting both the underplanting and roses flowering at the same time, underplanting can be used to extend to seasons of interest from much before the roses open and to well after they have finished, using plants like spring bulbs like tulips, alliums, asters (in the various new names of course) clematis and of course topiary! Adding plants like dahlias and late flowering salvias can be done as a more modern twist in the borders. Plants like Helleborus argufoloius, flower early in the year but the foliage adds something to the borders during the summer months too. Again it’s just a case of playing with plants and see if it works. I have found the helleborus x hybridus forms difficult to add to roses, until I tried them with Rosa rugosa hybrids and found they worked well with the different foliage of the rugosa.

img 5123 Under planting roses part 1, the reasoning behind itsunderplanting roses can also do so much more than just enhancing the roses, it can also help the health of the roses. How? Well in various different ways, take Blackspot for an example, the spores from the fungus are transported from the infected rose by water droplets. These hit the rose, pickup the fugal spores, splash down onto the ground and then up onto the next rose, infecting that one as well. Underplanting slows down the droplet speed once it’s hit the rose and cushions the fall of the water onto the ground, reducing the splash effect and other plants then also stop this splash from hitting the next rose. Powdery mildew is spread by wind, catching hold of the spores and spreading it to the next rose, underplanting between the roses, adds another small barrier to help reduce this spread.

img 0975 Under planting roses part 1, the reasoning behind itsThen there’s the insect pests like aphids, just as in organic growing, a sacrificial plant can be grown to attract them to it and then this plant will attract in aphid eating machines like ladybird larvae to feast on them. Growing a wide range of flowers will also attract in a wide range of beneficial insects like hover-flies that again will feed on the any pests around, the seedpods left late until the season attract in birds to feed on them, these birds normally come in large mixed flocks and they will also look for insects hidden on the roses.

2006c Under planting roses part 1, the reasoning behind itshow to feed the roses is one of the big questions I am normally asked in concern with underplanting roses. The answer is a little more complex, I don’t believe in feeding just for one plant, I believe we should be feeding the soil and producing a heathy soil, one that can support a wide range of plants easily. Once the soil is healthy, the plants growing will be stronger and more able to fight diseases and pests. So I tend to add a fairly organic fertiliser to the soil in early spring, covering the whole area not just around the plants and then mulch with a garden compost or composted green waste. This I find is enough to keep both the roses and underplanting happy.

img 1091 Under planting roses part 1, the reasoning behind itsIn all mixing up the planting with roses is indeed hard work but it is a way of growing them that is both pleasing to the eye and one that does have good health benefits for the roses too.

In the next part, I shall have a closer look at some of the underplanting that can be the most overall use for underplanting through roses, it won’t be a complete list but just some of the ideas of combinations to try

global blogging feature Under planting roses part 1, the reasoning behind its
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Plant of the week- Camellia x williamsii ‘J C Williams’

camellia x williamsii j c williams 2 Plant of the week  Camellia x williamsii ‘J C Williams’

camellia x williamsii j c williams Plant of the week  Camellia x williamsii ‘J C Williams’One of the sure signs of spring to me has to be the camellias opening up. I know that their are forms like C. sansanqua types, like the one I featured late last year. But those just start the Camellia season and it’s not until the main flowering groups like C.japonica, C.retectulata and of course the C.x williamsii hybrids start flowering in their droves I feel that winter is on its way out.

Camellia x williamsii are a cross between Camellia japonica and Camellia saluenensis. This hybridisation was done on purpose by the great plantsmen J C Williams and Col. Stephenson Clarke at Borde Hill Gardens. It was John Charles Williams who made the first cross in 1923 down in his great garden in Cornwall called Caerhays. The Williams family supported many plant hunting trips by some of our greatest plant hunters and some of the wonders grow quite happy in this real plantsperson garden. The magnolias are of particular note, with some of the very best cambellii trees in the uk. It was indeed at the walls of Caerhays, Camellia saluenensis flowered for the first time in the uk and was crossed soon after by J C Williams to form the Camellia x williamsii hybrids. Indeed from the first batch of seedlings, Camellia x williamsii ‘J C Williams’ was selected and named.

camellia x williamsii j c williams 3 Plant of the week  Camellia x williamsii ‘J C Williams’

Camellia x williamsii ‘J C Williams’ starts the odd flower from the end of November and it can flower right up to the end of March but I feel in February it is at its best. It’s single flowers range from light pink to a dark pink, are highlighted by the dark green foliage. Camellia x williamsii ‘J C Williams’ is also one of the best hybrids to grow on a wall, preferably one that does get a little shade. Over time Camellia x williamsii ‘J C Williams’ can make a shrub up to 5m high and 3m across but if you don’t have the space, they can be lightly pruned after flowering. If it does get too big, camellias can be reduced down to stumps if required.

Camellia x williamsii ‘J C Williams’ is like all other Camellias in the the fact it does grow best in lime free soil, ideally one that hold moisture well but is also free draining. It is effected by few pests, scale insects are the worse, they live under the leaves and drop their honeydew poo onto the leaves below, Black sooty mould then grows on this, making the plant look unsightly. It is also pretty resistant to Honey Fungus so maybe worth adding to a spot where the existing plant has been killed off by the disease.

camellia x williamsii j c williams 2 Plant of the week  Camellia x williamsii ‘J C Williams’Camellia x williamsii ‘J C Williams’ is also pretty easy to grow, a yearly feed of Vitax Q4 and a mulch of well rotted compost just after it has finished flowering would be ideal. As would watering if we get a dry spell in mid-late summer as this is when the flowering buds are formed. Camellia x williamsii ‘J C Williams’ can be easy propagated by heal cuttings in late summer. These are short lengths of newish growth, ideally a couple of years old, pulled gently off a cut branch so some of the existing branch is still there and gives it a heal. These cuttings are best given a little bit of heat in a propagator and should start to grow away before the winter months.

Camellia x williamsii ‘J C Williams’ can be seen in most large gardens that have a good Camellia collection like RHS Wisley and is quite widely sold. Burncoose of Southdown, in Cornwall are still owed by a branch of the Williams family and it’s well worth ordering one from there

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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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Plant of the Week-Acer griseum

acer griseum 2 Plant of the Week Acer griseum

acer griseum Plant of the Week Acer griseum

I have been wanting to add this most beautiful of trees to the plant of the week for many months now, just other plants have got in the way but on Saturday I was staring at quite a few of them at The Sir Hillier Gardens and decided this is the week to feature this tree.

acer griseum 2 Plant of the Week Acer griseum

Acer griseum is a small tree, native of the central area of China in the Sichuan, Shaanxi, Henan, Hubel,Gansu, Hanan and Shanxi provinces, where it grows in woodland between 1500-2000m above sea level. It was introduced into to western civilisation by one of the greatest plant hunters of them all, a chap called Ernest Wilson, for the famous Veitch Nursery in 1901. Ernest Wilson or Chinese Wilson introduced 1,200 new plants into our gardens during his time as a plant hunter in China. This included 400 new species and 4 new genera. The name comes from Ancient Greek, Acer means bitter and griseum means greyish.

acer grisum Plant of the Week Acer griseum

Acer griseum or the paper barked maple can grow up to 50ft tall over a period of many years, it is quite a slow growing tree and most specimens reach no more than 30ft often nearer 20ft in height. Making it an ideal tree for the smaller gardens. The leaves themselves as quite attractive with a greyish underneath and a light green on top and are formed of 3 leaflets on each leave. The leaves do turn a beautiful red and orange colour in the autumn months. The flowers are borne in mid spring around April time and are small and yellow in colour. As the common name may suggest, it’s for its bark this tree is really grown for. The bark ranges in the different shades of brown and peels off the tree in sheets of brown paper that is very stunning! This effect normally starts happening when the tree is at least 4 years old and so does require a good size specimen for the garden if you would like to see the best from it. With the sunlight behind it, it is breathtakingly beautiful and has fast become one of the main stays in a winter garden.

grisuem Plant of the Week Acer griseum

It is also Acer griseum’s ability to grow in all types of soils including clay, chalk and sand that has also helped it become so popular. The only thing it needs is for the soil to be moist and fairly free draining. It is also pretty disease and pest free. It’s size and slow growth, means it’s ideal for most size gardens, from the small to the massive, where it can look magnificent grown in small groves. It requires very little pruning, maybe removal of lower branches when young to give a clear stem if required and removal of crossing branches and dead wood, that is about it. The one fault Acer griseum has is that the seeds tend to be pathenocarpy, which means they will form but will contain no seed. This reduces the germination rate down to around 5% for them but seed is still one of the best ways to grow it. Grafting is another way it is propagated.

Garden wise, Acer griseum can be found in most large gardens, there’s a lovely one At Mottisfont Abbey gardens, great examples at RHS Wisley and Rosemoor and of course Sir Harold Hilliers Garden. It is also pretty easy to buy, with most good Nurseries and garden centres able to supply it

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Plant of the week: Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’

img 1990 1 Plant of the week: Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’

img 1900 Plant of the week: Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’

The plant of the week this week is a widely planted shrub that’s really starting to look great at this time of the year. And it rightly deserves this wide planting for its a tough plant

Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’ is a evergreen shrub that sometimes is called Silk tassel bush or Quinine bush. It is a native of USA where it grows in a couple of different areas, the first one is on the coast of South Oregon and into California very near the coast well within 20miles of it. The other place it can be found growing on the mountains around the Pacific coastline in areas like Montana and San Bruno mountain ranges. It tends to grow 200m above sea level in the more damper spots along the coast.

img 1990 Plant of the week: Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’

It was first discovered by one of the greatest plant collectors of all America, David Douglas in 1828. Garrya was named after Garry Nichols. Garry Nichols was the deputy governor of the Hudson Bay company and managed the merger between them and North West Company. Hudson Bay Company controlled the fur trade throughout North America and is still going as a trading company selling anything from clothes to digital space. The cultivar James Roof was named after the director of Tilden botanical gardens, California where this form was found growing in amongst some seedlings.

img 1993 Plant of the week: Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’

Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’ is an evergreen shrub with a sea green foliage. It makes a shrub that will reach 4m in height and width and makes both a great free standing shrub as well as a wall Plant. Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’ makes a Great Wall shrub thriving on a north facing wall. It’s grown for its very beautiful greenish/grey catkins at start showing early winter and then open up around now to their full length of 20-35cm in the case of the male form James Roof. These catkins are really what this stunning shrub is grown for. Once they have finished flowering, they can stay on the shrubs for months after they have finished. It is pretty tough shrub, Hardy down to -15c but it will suffer a bit of browning on the leaves and some dieback at these temperatures. It prefers a soil that is pretty damp but is free draining, it will survive in drier soils but never does as well. It will quite take slightly acidic and alkaline soils, ideally in the PH range of 6-8. I have grown it on shallow soils over chalk without too many problems. It’s prefect for poor soils and coastal areas. Pruning wise it just needs a little shaping in April cutting the growth from last year down to a couple of buds on established plants and trim new growth on plants in training, down by half. Feeding is down using a compost mulch and vitax Q4 in around March time. Propagation is best done by semi-ripe cuttings taken in late summer. It is pretty disease and pest free, rabbits and deer don’t really like eating them!

Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’ is available in most good garden centres and can be seen in most public gardens and in a lot of private gardens as well

img 1879 Plant of the week: Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’

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Pruning Wisteria

img 2681 Pruning Wisteria

If that’s one plant that’s more than likely to get us into a tied up pickle on how to prune is certainly a wisteria. Wisterias seem to have long tentacle like growths that wrap around everything in its path indeed I wonder if J K Rowling thought about wisteria when she came up with Devils snare in Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone. Wisteria is actually pretty easy to train and prune, you just need to remember a few things to get the best from it

First the growth

wisteria tend to put on two types of growth, flowering growths that tend to be a short in length up to about 15cm maximum and extension growth. The flowering growths are indeed where the flowers will be borne from May onwards and the extension growth is what helps the plant to expand both in height but also these stems are designed to fit into rock spaces, expand and root and so forth produce another plant. This is part of the reason they love getting underneath slates and tiles.

img 1904 Pruning Wisteria

The shorter growths, these are the flower bearing growths

img 1903 Pruning Wisteria

The longer extension growths, these can be over 5m in length in some cases, also note the seedpods on the shorter growth.

knowing the differences between the two types of growth helps to know which ones to prune. It’s worth remembering also that wisterias can take up to 10 years to flower depending on how they are propagated, so if you can’t see any of the shorter growth on a younger Plant, it means it’s not old enough to flower yet.

It’s very easy with all this very long growth to just tie it in to the height that you want the plant to get too in the end. This ends up with a bare middle and all the growth at the top. It is worth taking time to allow the plant to fill up the gaps and build a frame work of branches up. This is done by reducing the young stems down in length to between 30-60cm. Why do this? Well whatever plant you prune it is the first 2-4 buds that will break. Having them break lower down the plant, will give you a chance to build up a frame work of branches over time. This pruning down to 30-60cm can carry on until the plant has cover the space with each new break treated the same. Once it has a good framework up or indeed the plant is already got a established framework, the extension growth should be pruned down to 3 buds above where it started growing last spring. This is done during the dormant season from December to end of February. If you need to summer prune from July onwards, prune back to 5 buds above the breaking point each time but when pruning in the winter, take these shoots hard back right down to 3 buds from where in broke in the spring. It may seem hard but by doing this, you will encourage more shorter flowering stems to form. If the plant is more established, just forget the 30-60cm training bit and cut straight to the pruning down to 3 buds. The buds on Wisterias are indeed opposite so need a slanting cut away from the bud, more information can be found on my pruning cuts blog here and part 2. Right enough words and onto the photos on how to do it

img 1906 Pruning Wisteria

New growth being cut down to 30-60cm to help form framework branches from the base up. When planting it’s also worth untwisting all the stems as eventually they will strange each other

img 1909 Pruning Wisteria

The extension growth being pruned back to 3 buds on an established framework branch.

img 1902 Pruning Wisteria

A plant before pruning with all the extension growth going a little mad!

img 1912 Pruning Wisteria

And afterwards with the extension growth pruned back to 3 buds and any new framework branches being trained in and cut back to approx 45cm.

img 2681 Pruning Wisteria

This is why we prune them as per above, this is the same plant in flower, every cm of it is covered in flower without one area being bare. It took me 4 years to get it looking like this and it was planted about 6yrs ago now. Taking time to build the framework up is very important.

img 1919 Pruning Wisteria

With older plants that haven’t had as much work done on them in the past, it is worth thinning out the older stems. I find it easier to compare them and after taking out the dead ones, remove the stems with the most length of bare stem or with the smallest amount of branches on. On a plant like this I would be looking at removing 2/3rds of the existing wood to open it up more and then start training in younger stems as a framework into the gaps. Some of the existing large branches can also be bent down to fill in the gaps as well.

img 1923 Pruning Wisteria

The finished plant and you can see how much clearer and managed it looks now. It will take about another 2-3yrs to get the plant to its best

I hope you have found this blog on pruning wisterias helpful, if I can help any more, please feel free to comment below and I will try and answer the query as soon as I can

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Step by step guide to Rootballing shrubs and small trees

img 1827 Step by step guide to Rootballing shrubs and small trees

Yes we all do it, plant a plant in the wrong spot or a spot that for various reasons, ends up being the wrong spot in the end. But what to do with it? The cost of mature plants is a fair bit of £££ now and it’s such a shame to lose such a beautiful plant, and there’s that new perfect spot, Just there in the corner, it’s a perfect size, will cover that item you would like to hide quite nicely but the plants just too big to put a spade around it and heave it up. So what’s the best way of moving it and giving it the best choice of surviving. The answer is of course is to lift it with a root ball attached. This rootball is a area of fibrous roots still in their soil just lifted carefully. The key work is fibrous root system, plants that produce more of a tap root or fang type root system. Tools needed for this job are a digging spade and fork, a border spade and fork, a sheet of hessian sacking and if you are doing a lot of them, a sack needle and 4ply string.

The method is pretty easy but does take time and practise to perfect it, this is a roughly how I do it

img 1867 Step by step guide to Rootballing shrubs and small trees

Working out the size of the rootball can be tricky, there’s no method that allows you to work out the size but more comes down to the age of the plant and how long has it been in there for. For this size shrub that’s been in the ground for a few years, I went big at just over a length of a spade. Bearing in mind it’s the fine fibrous roots you are after and they are normally found on the drip line of the shrub/tree. Once I have worked out the estimated size of the rootball, I go around the outside of the plant a little bit bigger than I require, with a spade, pushing the spade into the ground to the full depth all the way around. This is to cut though any roots that are there

img 0620 1 Step by step guide to Rootballing shrubs and small trees

Next step to work out the exit point ie the point where you want to remove the plant from the hole. It’s important to think of it now before you start digging. Once that’s worked out, start digging a trench around the outside of your spade cut that you have made already. The areas shaded red in picture above.

img 1821 1 Step by step guide to Rootballing shrubs and small trees

You can see the trench is formed now and the exit point has been kept clear. You need to go down a couple of spades deep. This area is your working channel for the next bit

img 1824 Step by step guide to Rootballing shrubs and small trees

Now using a fork, gently tease back the soil until you hit the fine roots like in the picture, this bit takes time, it’s best to do a little at a time and work your way around the rootball doing this. Once you have teased some soil away, clear it out of the trench. You have to tease the soil away without putting any pressure on the rootball, so it’s almost like a flick away more than a tease. As you do this around the plant, it is also time to start going underneath as well. This is more tricky but follows the same method of going around the outside but this time you are going under! Using the curved in part of the fork, start making a slight V shape underneath the plant, again flicking the fork rather than put pressure on the rootball. Dig under the bottom of the V to give yourself a little more room. Just keep on going around until you are at least a third (preferably a bit more like 4/10ths) under on each half. Any roots can be either cut with a saw if big or just a sideways movement of the fork will snap them

img 1827 Step by step guide to Rootballing shrubs and small trees

img 1133 Step by step guide to Rootballing shrubs and small trees

Then you should get to a stage when the plant will be able to start moving slowly and should be able to break free of the ground. This is the time you need to be very careful of any cracks forming, these cracks can quickly destabilise the rootball making it fall apart. The stop them, it’s a case of reducing more soil from around the cracked area and so reducing the pressure on that part.

img 1868 Step by step guide to Rootballing shrubs and small trees

Next part is to get a sheet of hessian sacking that’s approx 1m bigger in length and width than the root ball you are lifting the roll the width up until 2/3 or 1/2 way up. Then fit it underneath the rootball so the rolled upside is soil side and the flat side is rootball side. Then push this under the rootball as far as it can go, gently push the plant over slightly onto the hessian, clear a bit of soil from underneath section that was still attached and unroll and pull the hessian though, having it rolled side down makes it so much easier to pull through!

img 1135 Step by step guide to Rootballing shrubs and small trees

Then grab the two left hand corners of the hessian and wrap together until it’s tight to the rootball and then do the same of the other side and there it is ready to lift out!

img 1137 Step by step guide to Rootballing shrubs and small trees

If it’s too heavy to lift out of the hole, you can either make a ramp to drag it out or lay the plant on its side, add a bit of soil underneath the rootball and then push it over on top it’s opposite side and add more soil, keep on doing this until the plant is at top of the hole and can be slid out onto boards

img 1829 Step by step guide to Rootballing shrubs and small trees

It’s not an easy job, indeed it can take many years of trail and error to get right but it is certainly a skill that’s worth mastering in the garden!

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Rose and other workshops at Chawton House

img 2045 Rose and other workshops at Chawton House

Well I am delighted to announce that in conjunction with the Chawton House, we will be offering a series of garden workshops over the next year. These workshops are to be held is the beautiful surroundings of Jane Austin’s brothers Hampshire house, where Jane spent many happy days walking around the garden.

The first one on the 6th of March is looking at pruning rambling and climbing roses and the second on the 13th of March is looking at bush and shrub roses. These are all day course with a light lunch and refreshments part of the £75 ticket. There is a maximum of 15 tickets for sale for each day

img 3863 Rose and other workshops at Chawton House

I have many years of experience pruning roses after learning my trade working with the roses at Mottisfont Abbey Gardens. During these workshops, we shall be looking at the type of roses, the basics of pruning and the reasons behind it, a demonstration followed by a have-ago session with me on hand to advise you.

These workshops cover a wide range of topics looking at detail of getting the best from your roses, looking at feeding, underplanting, pests and diseases that may attack them and how to control them both organically and using chemicals. We all want Plants for nothing don’t we, here’s your chance to learn how to lift and divide Plants, learning how to divide herbaceous Plants with fibrous or more woody root plates. Unsure about what pest and diseases you have in your garden and how to treat them? Then we have a workshop for you, learn about the common pest and diseases in the garden and the ways to control them both chemically and organic!

Course

Length

Month

Date

Rose pruning-rambling and climbing roses

1day

Early March

6/3/2018

Rose pruning-bush and shrub

1 day

Mid March

13/3/2018

Lifting and dividing perennial plants

1/2 day

End of March

27/3/2018

Common pest and diseases in the garden

1day

May

15/05/2018

Herbaceous Plant staking

1/2 day

April

10/4/2018

Looking after roses

1/2 day

April

24/4/2018

So if you find your roses a rambling mess, no idea how to control your Hybrid Teas, please contact Chawton House to book yourself on these workshops, their details are as follows: info@chawtonhouselibrary.org or telephone: 01420 541010.