Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pruning time is upon us

I have discovered that almost as much as I love planting and growing plants, cutting back and tidying plants comes a close second. Call me a control freak if you will, but it's Very Satisfying to give a plant a haircut!

Yesterday Emily sent me her notes from a Flora Grubb lecture she attended about pruning plants in our area, and despite having blisters on my hands from a morning spent edging the sidewalk area, I jumped at the first dry spell that afternoon and went out and pruned the African Blue basil (Ocimum kilimandscharicum × basilicum 'Dark Opal') right down, and my first ever roses! We have three - two standard and one bushy one, and I carefully applied the multiple rules of rose pruning to each cane on each rose.

1. Clear excess mulch and leaves from around the base of the plant. Say a prayer.
2. Cut out any brown, stripy wood - you only want green canes.
3. Pull out any suckers that grow from below the soil.
4. Cut  out any canes that cross.
5. Cut each green cane back by 1/3.
6. Make cuts above an outward facing leaf node, at the perfect angle and distance.
7. Aim for a vase shape, with the center hollow.
8. When you are done, the rose will look like you massacerd it - all that will be left are perhaps half a dozen miserable sticks, and not a single leaf or flower. Go now and drink some tea - you will feel better in the Spring.

You can see a before and after of the yellow standard rose, left. I also restaked it. I think this looks really drastic but they say roses are extremely tough, so hopefully they will come back with renewed vigor soon! And with less black spot and mildew and aphids and... Yeesh! Roses are the only thing in the garden that gets sprayed with chemicals and requires so much work!

I also met Sean and Jenny who live locally and have their own succulent garden. Nice!

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