It is time for the loppers and secateurs to come out of Christmas party retirement at the back of the shed. You’ll need them for giving the garden a haircut so it keeps flourishing in abundance throughout summer.
New tools are always intended for my Christmas wish list, but before I put in a request I remember that I grow a deep attachment to my shears. My garden tools have taken me on a journey in many wonderful clients’ gardens. They have also been good companions during bad days of retreating to my garden to put in perspective life’s unexpected events; so new tools aren’t for me unless something is broken or lost.
You may have read about my adventure dealing to some roses on a friend’s farm a few blog posts ago. I didn’t mention in that story about losing my long time pair of loppers. Until now I was in denial that they are not coming back. I even remember when I got them. I had saved an old stately Buxus hedge from the jaws of a bobcat digger on a job many years ago. The mature hedge became a smart border to one of our veggie patches. The excuse of ‘having’ to invest in a super sharp pair of loppers was accepted by hubby since they would keep the garden tidy. I got my pair and would keep arm flab at bay with long sweeps down the face of the hedge. They were sharp to a T but what a silly colour; beige and forest green, clearly not designed by a gardener. For 7 years I have managed not to lose them, however amidst the tangle of those heritage roses I am not the least bit surprised that this particular garden ate them. I need to find myself a sturdy garden belt, like a tool belt but feminine of course. If I were safe from stabbing myself I would buy it in a heart beat or at least make it a Valentines Day gift wish so I wasn’t vulnerable to losing more tools.
When we moved to our Kerikeri lifestyle garden I set about making Compost in the first week. Hubby thought I would unpack the container and trailer while he was working in Auckland. Silly isn’t he; of course I wouldn’t do that when there was the bones of the garden to create! He never complains. His strong point and the best thing about his blue thumbs is that my suggestions of what needs to be done are always ‘right’.
Once Little Yellow Digger bowled over the Yucca’s between Christmas and New Year the ground was ready for sowing flowering and beneficial insect seeds. Plenty of them to cover all exposed ground. At this stage there are no flowers to speak of as it’s too soon for floribunda of course, but there will be. At your place if your annuals and perennials were planted in Spring they will be ready for a trim up. Shape up the garden now so as to hold on to the last sunshine days of a late arriving Summer.
What to prune
Deadheading Roses: For long stem roses I trim to leave 5 buds from the main stem with secateures. Basically trim off the dead roses without cutting the bush back to far or you will be participating in a winter prune which is far too early.
Carpet ground cover roses can be refreshed with loppers with a light trim to shear off the spent flowers.
Climbers can be tamed with loppers, especially the extendable variety of tools. Nip off the spent flowers but balance this with allowing some hips to stay for Winter display.
Shape up perennials and annuals:
Sunny faces of the Marguerite Daisy are a welcome site in Summer. As the petals fall their stamens look raggedy so ship shape them with a light trim with loppers.
Penstemon need a tidy and so do Lavender. Take off 1/3 of the height to encourage more flowers. Be sure not to trim back hard or you may expose their woody legs.
In the vege and herb garden:
Let some herbs go to seed and flower. This will attract beneficial insects into the garden and better balance the health of your plants with their presence. For herbs you wish to keep eating; manage their tendency to bolt to flower with a light trim of the woody seed shoots. Herbs that have gone to flower will be bitter so give them a boost and keep on top of watering in the height of sunny days.