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Pruning the garden



  My hands are so sore - they have not worked this hard since this time last year.  It is pruning time and this is the 10th reunion of the planting of my garden. So many roses, crapemyrtles, hollies, deciduous shrubs and miscellaneous items which must be pruned this year.  They have reached a point by this time where they either need to be pruned radically or they must be removed.  Due to some of my erroneous spacing, they have overgrown their location.  Don’t always trust the descriptions on plant labels - they may have been written in a very cold part of the U.S.

A Tea Olive tree at Kathy’s home. Special photo

  At most times of the year I think this is a garden, but during this season (until about the middle of March) I think of my land as an estate, which seems to be grow larger day by day.   I try to use the correct tools - pruning saw, loppers (long-handled pruners) and high quality hand pruners - because this makes it easier on me and protects the quality of my plants.    I also preserve the shape of the shrub that I am butchering.  Please do not cut any shrub straight across the top.  Look at it closely before attacking it and keep the shape by pruning the major limbs at different lengths.  Remove the spindly inside growth and the shoots that grew straight up.  A good pruning book or a little investigation on the internet will help you a lot.

  The grapevines will have to wait until February.  I am starting on my roses now, rather than the 2nd week in February, because there are so many and the weather is  crazy.   The stubs look rather pathetic, but my shrub roses had grown to about six feet tall and just as wide.  Now they are about 18-24 inches.

  My Vitex trees have been tamed to a five-foot height and each limb is trimmed to provide that beautiful rounded shape.  I am cutting the Butterfly Bushes back to the ground.  Hope they come out beautifully for summer.  They had just gotten too large and unshapely.   The Crape Myrtles that I prune (some are just too large to do anything but trim the lower shoots) will be thinned and shaped to allow them to look natural.  No stubs for me - “Crape Murder” is just not a part of my personality - can’t say the same for most folks - this county has some questionable characters.  I am not going to belabor that again - You Know Better!

  I have cut back my liriope and ornamental grasses and nipped the errant growth on the hollies (not really pruning). The Tea Olive that I thought would be about ten feet tall and maybe six feet wide, has grown to a height of about twenty-five feet and almost as wide.  I have limbed it up to show its trunk (4 feet high) and am in the process of shaping the top away from my garage.  What a mistake that planting location was! This tea olive is the orange Osmanthus auranticus (sometimes called the red-flowering tea olive).  It is wonderful, but grows very large.

  I cut back the Nandina stems that produced berries, to the ground to make it bushy and not “leggy.”  If it is just stems , cut the whole thing back to the ground. 

  More about pruning later. 

  Look around your yard today and decide to plant a tree for Arbor Day.  It is the third Friday in February in Georgia.  I will give you some suggestions soon.

  Now, get out there and take out your aggression on some shrubs and trees, but not those that bloom in the spring.  And, no chainsaws, please.



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