When August bubbles up to the top of the calendar, it is still sweltering summer, but fall is coming and certain gardening chores need doing before that happens. Specifically, the pruning of shrubbery, hedgerows and roses needs to be finished by around the middle of August for the new growth that will be spurred by the cuts to harden off before the cold weather comes.
Above: Looking towards the shed, shorter boxwood hedge, red Salvia coccinea and Cuphea ‘Purple Passion’ in the fore.
I know it can be difficult to think of cold when the forecast is for continued record shattering heat and drought, but rumor has it that some of us will be wearing sweaters and coats by the end of the year, those USDA Zone 7 and lower, anyway.
Above: The berries of Viburnum nudum ‘Brandywine’ are beginning to turn pinkish, in the background Physocarpus ‘Summer Wine’ needs a haircut now.
I love to prune, to be honest. It may be a control issue I have, but I love the looks of a neat and tidy hedge. Often, too often actually, shrubs have been planted too closely together so that one is crowding out its neighbor. Sometimes shrubs grow much larger, click here for more about that, than the tag predicted they would. Sometimes pathways jump into the way of the overhanging branches of neglected shrubs. Whatever the case, August is time to remedy all ills in the way of illiterate and inconsiderate shrubbery. So sharpen those pruners, loppers and saws, dear readers, and have a look around your gardens for likely cuttees.
Above: Hairstreak butterfly on Eryngium yuccifolium with the knot garden boxwood hedge still looking fairly neat, probably not needing to be trimmed.
The task tackled today was to top the row of Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Gold Mop’ that have grown to be twice as tall as advertised, with no end in sight. This was a job beyond my strength and ability, to wield a chainsaw while on a ladder, so the mighty Finanacier was called up to duty.
Along the back side, which faces the veggie garden, an electric trimmer keeps the pathway clear. On the front side, which faces north and is not nearly as golden in hue as the back, hand shearing keeps the evergreens from casting too much shade on the ever growing deciduous azaleas. Some of those are now taller than the Gold Mops, as was the original plan.
The next pruning will be done on the Pyracantha row. Planted for privacy and to hide the silver chain link fence, these firethorns are attacked yearly by wild grapevines. I like to use the grapevines in craft projects so those will be pulled off before the chainsaw takes down the bush at the far end that was left uncut when the chainsaw blade gave out. There are berries galore for the birds to gorge themselves on, growing on the shrubs that were cut down to size last year.
The boxwood hedge around the knot garden has not grown much over the summer and might be allowed a reprieve from the trimming. The roses were cut earlier when the super hot temps and lack of rain caused them to look horrible. New growth and flowering are the rewards, so there will be less work for the last call in August.
Above: Rosa ‘Knockout’ that is pruned to be a tree rose on a single stem with all growth at the top.
Fall is just around the bend, as the mums, asters and goldenrods are beginning to form flower buds. The Dahlias have been blooming for some time, but will show off best as the days become shorter. The pruning list is being checked off as the chores are finished. For we know that winter is coming.
Above: Dahlia ‘Gallery Cobra’ and D. ‘Gallery Singer are budding up for fall.
Last year’s post on this topic can be seen below:
To help you get started:
How To Conquer The Fear Of Pruning