It’s time to prune, but take care as not all shrubs need cutting back

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WITH all plantings for spring hopefully completed, attention now turns to clearing away what’s left of one season in preparation for the next.

High winds over the coming months can play havoc with plants such as roses and buddleias and so require some attention to combat these. Cut rose stems back by half, this will stop them rocking backwards and forwards in high winds. If not done, this constant movement causes a space to develop at ground level which can allow severe frost to damage the plant. The final pruning will be done in March.

Likewise, buddleias put in a lot of tall growth in a season and this is also best cut back by half, with the final pruning done in March. Again, if left untouched, wind damage can result in main branches being broken to the detriment of this beautiful shrub.

At this time of year many gardeners can be seen curtailing the growth of shrubs to keep them in check and confined to their allotted space in the ornamental garden. However, a word of caution here: not all shrubs should be pruned at this time. Any shrub which flowers in the spring should not be touched , otherwise there will be no flowers!

The time to prune shrubs that bloom in the spring is immediately after they have flowered. In this ‘don’t touch’ group are Berberis darwinii, the one with miniature, holly-like, evergreen foliage and golden-yellow flowers; Chaenomeles, the wall shrub often referred to as Japonica or Flowering Quince; Cytisus, better known as broom; the white-flowered Deutzia; the popular yellow-flowered Forsythia and Kerria; Philadelphus, often referred to as Mock Orange or Bride’s Blossom on account of its white flowers; Ribes, better known as Flowering Burrant; Syringa, lilac to most people; and Weigela, a popular and early-to-grow shrub.

In severe winters, the only fuchsia which can be relied upon to survive is the variety Riccartonii. That’s the one with small single flowers. To protect the base, leave this unpruned until the spring, then cut all stems down to about an inch from ground level.

The herbaceous border is where the majority of cutting down this season’s growth takes place. Prune everything down to ground level and this will prevent all manner of pests and slugs from using the plants as a winter home protected from the weather among the stems. Clearing away one season’s growth allows fresh new shoots to emerge in the spring.