It is a month which at times can show signs of spring and entice one to partake in some gardening. Indeed, if the weather is genial then February is the ideal month to prune those plants which belong to the RHS category of Group Six pruning.
Essentially, these are the plants which flower late summer to autumn and on the current new seasons stems and growth.
Examples of plants which adhere to Group Six pruning are:
As these shrubs flower on the same years growth a hard prune is required during the month of February and as in the case of the hardy Fuschias almost down to ground level, this can be extremely therapeutic too for the person who is doing the pruning. Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’ which exhibits a wonderful display of blue-lilac flowers, also known as Russian Sage, will benefit immensely from a hard prune back to its basal shoots. Perovskia thrives in many coastal areas and in many soil types and with aromatic leaves akin to sage and an appearance similar to lavender it makes an excellent low lying hedgerow.
Buddleja Davidii also known as the ‘Butterfly Bush’ can be cut down, using large pruners, to approximately half a metre from the ground, this will encourage upright shoots with a slight arching habit and will be greatly appreciated by the butterflies.
As a rule of thumb for shrubs which adhere to Group Six pruning, cut back the previous years flowering stems to one or two buds from the older framework.
Certain types of Clematis will also be required to have a hard prune in February, this is particularly the case for Herbaceous Clematis, Gypsy Queen and Clematis Viticella. They all flower on the current seasons growth in late summer and if they are not pruned annually the stems will be devoid of flowers and only up high will the flowers grow and most often amongst a tangled mass of growth. It must be noted that Clematis has its own pruning group classification, those which flower in late summer fall into Clematis Group 3, whereas, those which flower in early summer and on older wood or the previous years growth fall into Clematis Group 2. If unsure when to prune, then observe the time of year the Clematis will come into flower.
For the kitchen gardeners, autumn raspberries will fall into Pruning Group Six.
All old canes should be cut back down to ground level in February and the new canes will start to grow in spring and then fruit in late summer. It is important not to mistake summer raspberries for the autumn variety, as they fruit on the previous years canes, which would result in a loss of crop.
Contribution By Oliver David Cook
"After his long journey across Europe and Asia Minor, Voltaire has his hero Candide settle down on the outskirts of the Muslim city of Constantinople to “tend his own garden”, in other words “to mind his own business.” After witnessing horrifying episodes of religious intolerance and political oppression Candide decides that the best thing to do in the world is settle down, live peacefully with his neighbours, and produce something of value to others which he can sell in the markets." Candide (1759)
The sun still remains low in the sky and the length of daylight hours are short, but the month of January provides an opportunity to pay attention to the deciduous plants of the garden, that is those which annually lose and renew their leaves. It is this time of the year that the deciduous plants are dormant, meaning the preferred time for pruning and transplanting.
Young, newly planted trees can grow branches out into other nearby plants and now is the time to prune the misplaced stems, always cutting back to the main stem or at a junction of another branch. Lower side growths can also be pruned to form a length of bare trunk, this is known as a standard tree.
Any dead or diseased branches can be removed and a general prune is advisable to tidy trees and shrubs to one’s liking. If any shrubs which have become loosened by wind they should be firmed up and staked if necessary.
Providing conditions permit, January is a good time to plant deciduous bare-root trees and shrubs, particularly the common hedging varieties such as, Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus), Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) and Beech (Fagus sylvatica).
If the weather conditions are not congenial and the soil is waterlogged, the bare-root plants can be healed in a corner of the garden until the soil is suitable.
When purchasing bare-root plants always look for evenly distributed spreading roots and not ones which are tightly coiled.
The spacing of between each hedging plant can vary, but below is a guideline:
This is assuming a single row of planting, if a denser wider hedge is desired then double planting is required, this is two rows of staggered plants and the spacing of the plants should be slightly increased. In exposed sites, a temporary wind break may be necessary and it must be positioned on the windward side of the hedge. It should remain erected until the hedge becomes established and can support itself.
Other deciduous plants which can be attended to are climbers, now that they are without leaves it is easier to see where the stems are and where to cut. The vigorous climbers, such as Hydrangea Petiolaris, can cause structural damage on buildings so now is a good time to prune. Wisteria can have what is known as its second prune, during the summer, the new long shoots would of been cut back to five or six buds from the main stem, now in January, these same shoots should be shortened even more to two or three buds from the main stem. This should encourage a fabulous display of flowers by early next year.
Written by Oliver David Cook on behalf of Green Landscapes Cornwall
Hello everyone, Green Landscapes Cornwall are sharing with you some ideas about how to implement different features for your garden!