Written by local people, for local people
To advertise, call 01892 531207

Home and Gardens

Published on December 2nd, 2013 | by The Town Crier


The Gardening Guru

The Gardening Guru

The Town Crier welcomes local gardening guru, Alison Marsden with her regular monthly expert advice.

Winter Pruning

Pruning can be done at several times of the year and this can make a straightforward gardening task seem shrouded in mystery.  December is one of the times when secateurs and loppers come out of the shed so I thought it timely to explain one of the key reasons for winter pruning.

As a rule, cutting hard back into the old woody stems when a healthy tree or shrub is dormant results in vigorous growth once it ‘wakes up’ in the spring.  There is a natural surge of growth when temperatures starts to rise, easiest to see in deciduous shrubs that lose their leaves in autumn and burst into leaf again from buds that have been tightly furled all winter.  The sap literally rises up powered by the roots sufficient to support a full canopy of foliage and if much of the top growth has been removed over winter then the plant attempts to produce leaf cover as quickly as possible.  Two things result: vigorous new stems from buds below the point of pruning and in several species, leaves much larger than usual that can be very decorative and much beloved of flower arrangers.

Hard winter pruning is ideal for regenerating an old, overgrown plant by cutting it down to 20cm and basically starting again.  It is not suitable if you simply want to stop an existing shrub getting bigger when vigorous regrowth is the last thing you need.

Always check if the shrub in question regenerates from old wood before drastic pruning.  I recommend consulting an authoritative book or website if you have any doubts.

Alison Marsden lives in Southborough and provides advice to gardeners as well as teaching for Kent Adult Education Services.

There is no long term commitment – just all the advice you need an hour at a time.

Find out more at www.gardeningbydesign.co.uk

This purple Smoke Bush, Cotinus coggygria, is showing lovely autumn colour.  It is pruned hard in winter to encourage leaves up to 12cm long.

Green Christmas

Is it realistic to talk about a green Christmas?  Well I’m not advocating sitting in the dark with no presents but you can celebrate and decorate without losing sight of the environmental impact. For example, choosing a locally grown Christmas tree that is shredded for mulch or burned as fuel afterwards; decorating the house with evergreen foliage (silver, red or gold as well as green) from your garden and thinking twice about buying out of season fruit and vegetables.  When it comes to presents many gardening and conservation charities offer gift memberships and of course there is the greatest green gift of all – Gardening!  Tools, gloves, books and plants all encourage someone to get more enjoyment out of their garden or more vegetables out of their allotment.  All the better if the presents we give and receive are sourced sustainably.  Keep an eye on packaging though; whether around food or gifts, it always seems to increase at Christmas time.

About the Author

Leave a Reply

Back to Top ↑