Plenty to be getting on with

Spiraea billiardii during the summer.
Spiraea billiardii during the summer.

Secateurs, long-handled pruners, lawn rake and collecting bag; such items sum up the tools required for borders suffering from the excesses of summer.

The old-fashioned perennial sweet pea that provided so many bunches for decoration from July until just last week, had almost smothered a viburnum farreri in the process.

But all that growth has been removed and composted, the seed pods retained for propagation and good homes.

Spent flowering stems were removed from spiraea arguta (bridal wreath) at a point where strong, young growths emerged. The same treatment was given to spiraea billiardii (pink spires). Both will flower on the remaining stems next year. As the latter produces suckers freely, we dug up some and heeled them in until the next garden club.

Several weigela and escallonia were next for the chop.

If you prune them now, they have plenty of time to think about producing new growth for next year’s floral display. The variegated leaves of weigela Florida will fall soon but what a sight it is when the new ones emerge in spring!

A mature standard escallonia with deep pink flowers was pruned quite severely to regenerate the wood. It will respond and flower next year but there’s no harm in propagating both this and the others mentioned just in case!

All you need are stems of this year’s growth of around 30 centimetres long. Remove all leaves save the topmost cluster and plant the cutting outside. Choose an area of land and make a slit trench by holding a spade upright and forcing the blade to its full depth in the soil. Push the cuttings close together in the trench, leaving the top quarter showing. Make them firm with your feet. Leave them until next autumn by which time you can plant them, now with roots, where you wish. Propagate black and redcurrants also gooseberries in the same way.

Rounding off the current shrub pruning, we’ve removed the top two-thirds of growth from lavateras and buddlejas to reduce wind resistance over winter. As lavateras hate severe frosts, a few finger-length side shoots were rescued and popped into the propagating case as softwood cuttings.