It's time to reach for the secateurs

Secateurs, long-handled pruners and garden shears have all been in action recently as soft fruits, shrubs and bustling border growth complete their productive cycle.

Sunday, 16th September 2018, 1:39 pm
Cyclamen hederifolium is no longer hidden from view. Picture by Tom Pattinson.

It began with the summer raspberry canes. Those that carried fruit were cut to ground level, giving the paler-coloured new canes space to develop.

Recently fruiting blackcurrant stems need removing too, but not to ground level. Follow them down to a point where a strong new shoot emerges, then prune.

Herbaceous and mixed ornamental borders become overcrowded as summer progresses, but when blooming comes to an end you’re left with a mass of green foliage, which tends to hide the emergence of autumn treats. Secateurs, shears and a determined gardener can fix that.

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Judicious pruning is called for. I leave plants with fragrant foliage to rub the hand through when passing – lemon balm, alloysia, oregano and the like – but the dense foliage of ferns, etc, can go because it smothers less vigorous plants currently in flower.

Bishop’s dahlias, Geranium Rozanne, Cyclamen hederifolium and scabiosa were hidden before; now they are clearly seen. Cultivars of the moorland heather, Calluna vulgaris, have the prominence they deserve now that an encroaching curry plant has been trimmed.

Some container displays are spent, others hang on and are encouraged to do so while butterflies and bees show interest in them.

When the time comes for replacements we have lots of polyanthus standing by. They were saved from spring bedding, planted in the garden and watered throughout summer. Once divided-up and given a home, they’ll prove the benefit of planning for future displays.