Secateurs at ready for cutting back shrubs

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It’s time to get secateurs to hand once more to attend to the shrubs cornus and viburnum.

Cornus, better known as dogwood, provides colour in the winter garden with brightly-coloured stems. The red-barked variety is C. alba Sibirica, C. stolonifera has yellow stems. To have these coloured stems next winter they need to be cut back hard now to just a couple of inches from ground level, as it is the new growth that produces the bright colours.

Virtually at the end of flowering are Viburnum fragrans which has been producing clusters of scented white blooms and V. bodnantense, the variety with larger flowers. Pruning is not necessary with both these shrubs, however, they can get rather large and if requiring to be reduced, now is the time to do it. Pruning left until later in the year or even in the autumn means the flowering stems are being removed.

Spring and autumn is a popular time for gardeners to tidy up and reduce shrubs by pruning but this does not apply to all of them. Cutting back at the wrong time results in flowering stems being taken out.

A general rule is: if a shrub flowers in the spring or early summer do not touch it in the autumn but cut it back immediately after it has flowered. This group includes forsythia, weigela, broom and ribes (flowering currant). Shrubs that flower in late summer and autumn are cut back in the spring. In this group are fuchsia, buddleia, lavender and hypericum.

By far the largest amount of planting are those in containers, with only a small percentage from bare-rooted plants.

The former can be done at any time throughout the year, except when the ground is frozen, any bare rooted plants that are purchased should be in the ground without delay.

Planting from a container means there is no disturbance to the roots and the plant is virtually guaranteed to grow. Whereas those from bare roots have to get established before they really start to grow.

With both types of planting, watering has to be done regularly for up to 12 months as the roots must have ample moisture.