August is that time of year when the garden is looking a little unruly after the wonderful display it put on in June and July but you will be surprised by how much tidier it will look after what is effectively a short, back and sides.
All plants, shrubs and trees respond well to a good pruning, it stimulates fresh and vigorous new growth. However, you shouldn’t just prune everything in the garden willy nilly. Perennial plants are fairly easy, as are roses but flowering shrubs are a little more tricky as are the one time flowering older varieties of rose. Here is my quick guide on late Summer pruning.
Modern varieties of roses (those that repeat flower) can be pruned at any time of year, although the main pruning should occur early in the year when the first buds appear. I water my roses continuously when they are in active growth (April-October) and I find that this results in vigorous growth and more flowers, so the occasional haircut keeps things in order. This Summer there has been a decent amount of rainfall so you might find that by August you have a few stems that are a bit leggy and it really is a good idea to reduce these down the the height of the other stems. It maintains a good shape and will promote flowers uniformly on the plant rather than just on the longer stems. Always prune to just above a leaf joint as this is where the growth node is for the next flower. Keep the cut tight to the leaf joint, cutting higher results in die-back which will turn brown and be dead wood which can allow fungal infections to develop. This method I generally use with Bush roses but you can also use the same technique with climbing roses but don’t reduce the stems by much are long arching stems is what we are going for. With climbing roses I usually only cut stems back by 1 or 2 leaf joints. With Ramblers just cut off an inch or two below the finished flower heads. If you are unsure you can send me a photo of the rose and I will give you my opinion.
I tend to just keep on top of dead-heading perennials unless they are really scruffy and the thing with perennials is that they all need pruning differently to promote late-Summer flowering. Here are just a few to give you an idea, others you can look up on the Internet or you can ask me directly.
Phlox – simply cut just below the spent flowerhead and this will promote new flower development. Do not cut them down to the base, that’s a Spring job.
Delphiniums – Cut then off at ground level and new, albeit smaller flower spikes will develop.
Lupins – after seed pods have started to develop cut back to a leaf joint below the seed pods and a new flower should develop from here.
The pruning of flowering shrubs all depends upon whether they flower on new wood or wood from the previous year. Forsythia is a prime example, it flowers on the previous years growth, if you must cut it then only prune a 3rd of stems otherwise you will have no flowers next spring. In reality, the ideal time to prune forsythia is just after it has flowered, allowing time for new flower bearing growth to occur. Lavender should be cut back hard at this time of year to prevent it becoming woody, I use a special lavender pruning tool but you can also use a pair of secateurs, prune to just above the start of the green shoots,this will encourage bushy growth and an abundance of flowers next year. My best advice on flowering shrubs is to treat each type as unique and to check in gardening books or online first.
Pruning now will tidyup the garden and promote more flowers, thereby extending interest in the garden well into Autumn. Now is also a good time to label plants that need moving in the autumn, I use blank white plant labels, the type that fixes around the stems which I write on with a permanent marker pen.
And now a few words from the wise, generally the women in my family…..(and my thoughts)
If the house is untidy just put away 30 things, by the time you are finished you will be amazed how much better it looks and it doesn’t take that long. Personally I think this is a trick to make me do housework.
The garden will look 100% better if you cut the grass, in my opinion Mothers are wiley creatures and will try anything to encourage sons to do work.
It will only take 5 minuites, pfah I say after 2 hours.
Let’s clean out that cupboard together, this in my opinion means I work and you supervise, note to self, never trust sisters.
Happy Gardening and I would loveto see pictures
of your gardens