Get your garden in order by pruning all of your shrubs – Brian Kidd

Brian recommends some long-handled secateurs for this job.
Brian recommends some long-handled secateurs for this job.
Share this article

The garden at home is looking a bit smarter after a friend and I worked really hard to clear the back log of jobs, which we have not been able to get on with due to the weather. Things changed so rapidly, everything looked so dull and then suddenly it all came back to life again – I have never experienced such a transformation before.

It will be time to start some shrub-pruning soon and all spring-flowering shrubs should be  pruned as soon as the flowers fade. For example, forsythia can be pruned really hard and, as it’s a bit daunting, here’s a little tip which will make the job easier.

Treat yourself to a pair of long-handled secateurs. Pull a large branch towards you and look towards the base of the shrub. You will see one or more straight shoots with no side shoots.

Prune that shrub right down to where the long straight shoots are situated, leaving the straight ones alone.

Pull out the next branch and prune this in the same way, continuing all around the shrub. It’s easy and quick with a pair of long handled secateurs.

On the ground there will be huge pieces of forsythia – these can be bundled up and taken to the recycling centre or kept to support herbaceous plants or peas.

What about pruning precious plants such as Camellia?

These can be pruned back as hard as you wish, providing it’s done as soon as the flowers fall. When pruned at the correct time, all cuts are hidden by the new growth within a month.

If a camellia is becoming far too large, it may be a good idea to remove some of the lower branches completely. This can be done using a pruning saw and each branch can be cut back to the main trunk.

If you like the sound of this, you can even turn a camellia shrub into a small tree.

What about a camellia the same size as a standard rose?

Ah – but if I do it – will it still flower?

Yes, as long as you do the pruning as soon as the flowers fade.

Plums and all stone fruits and figs too need to be pruned only if it is essential. Pruning must only be done when the plants are in full leaf but before St Swithin’s Day in July.

Also, a much better way to ensure bumper crops is to tie the branches so that the tips are facing the ground.

This is done with strong twine. Cherries on a trellis crop grow exceptionally well if all the new shoots are tied down in half circles while the shoots are still flexible. The shape of the cherry tree will look great and professionally maintained.

Also, when the flowers appear the whole thing will look fabulous.

Peaches and nectarines are pruned a few days before St Swithin’s day, the pruning is very easy to do with a pair of scissors.

Simply cut all the new shoots back to five pairs of leaves. Next year’s fruit will be on the wood which was left unpruned and the fruits are always on the growths that grew the previous year.

This week’s top tip: The leaves on daffodils and tulips are a nuisance when planting out the summer flowers. But don’t pull them off. The quickest way to encourage foliage to die down naturally is to remove the dead flowers and seed head.