Prune, prune and prune again

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Following on in last week’s theme of spring pruning of shrubs, a further three that require attention are hydrangeas, fuchsias and hypericum.

Hydrangeas are not widely grown in this area as they can be badly affected by severe frosts. Having said that, the past few winters have been less adverse and more and more of these beautiful shrubs are appearing in local gardens.

The most popular are the so-called mopheads on account of their large, ball-shaped flower heads. Then there are the lace-cap types; a flat head comprising a cluster of tiny flowers in the centre surrounded by an outer ring of larger ones.

Give both varieties a sheltered spot to give some protection from severe frosts, good soil and, something that most other shrubs don’t need because of their deep roots, regular and ample watering because in summer hydrangeas will flag when requiring moisture.

Both are H. macrophylla, with mopheads tending to be the hardiest. All the pruning needed is the removal of the dead flower heads, cutting back to just above new shoots which are already bursting.

There is another type, H.paniculata Grandiflora, that’s the one with the white, cone-shaped heads, requiring hard pruning for the best show.

Actually there is yet another type, H. petiolaris, a climbing variety, with large, lace-cap-type white flowers, not that common around here but a very beautiful shrub.

The only truly 100% hardy outdoor fuchsia for this area is F. magellanica Riccartonii. Despite its small flowers, it is popular, there are lots around and a robust grower, cut this one down to ground level.

There are two widely grown varieties of hypericum, both quite hardy and reliable shrubs. H. calycinum, often called Rose of Sharon, is a low, ground-covering variety with pale yellow petals and a deeper orange-yellow cluster of stamens in the centre, whereas H. Hidcote grows four or five feet in height, with deep yellow saucer-shaped overlapping petals and a deeper central boss of stamens.

The former requires hard pruning almost to soil level, the other less so; take away about a third.