Last call for pruning, that is. Mid August is the latest safe date for chopping back perennials, pruning roses and boxwood hedges, among others, that will allow the new growth spurred by said chopping and cutting to harden enough to withstand the onslaught of winter. These dates differ by zones, but this is the time for our own zone 7 cutting. This is not to say that we have never cut after August, for often the best time to do anything in the garden is when there is opportunity to do so, with the busy schedules that most of us enjoy nowadays. But the roses in particular should not be pruned once August has passed. The hard pruning is done on Valentine’s Day, to prepare for the flush of growth in Spring, illustrated above on Hybrid Musk Rosa ‘Penelope’ on May 23, 2011.
Since reshaping the boxwood hedge this year, with several light pruning forays to get the points, dips and size to the desired specifications, we wonder if a final cleaning up would make for happier winter viewing when this green wall stands out against the grey and brown of the cold season. Probably, it would.
Anything that has grown too large for its space, evergreen or deciduous, could be taken down to size now, as well. The winterberry hollies in front, shown above in full berry last November, growing happily under the ever spreading canopy of the Yoshino cherry tree, too happily it seems, are much larger than we would like.
Taking some branches way back and lightly trimming others will still allow the berries to shine this winter of the Ilex verticillatas. It has been noted that roadside plantings of these southeast native shrubs seen in North Carolina are kept low and lush, covered with berries. Ours have been allowed to grow large and with a natural shape, nice but it would be easy to do some clipping now for future neatness, compactness and more berries.
In past years, there has been clear cutting of the daylilies and colonies of Japanese painted ferns along the garage deck wall, with a good layer of compost added about this time. Shown above, the deck walls, upper and lower, in April.
There will be fresh foliage of fern and daylily that will be much more attractive as it fades faire than the mix of dead and new now showing. The above shot shows how new foliage will color by early November. A good cleanup and mulch will also allow the grape hyacinth foliage now beginning to emerge to be more easily admired without the detritus detracting.
Waiting for rain and a break in the temperatures to begin this task will most likely take us past the safe date of August, or so the weather reports seem to be saying, so we had best get the gloves on, empty the green fabric barrel to refill again, grab the felcos and hedge trimmers and begin.