Not long now to the big day. To be honest I can’t sleep at night I am so excited and sometimes the anticipation is just too much. I expect you feel the same; all over the world gardeners are wishing the days away in a trembling state of excitement. You thought I meant Christmas didn’t you. Well I am sorry to disappoint you, whilst the birth of Jesus Christ the saviour of the world is the most important thing at this time of year, I meant the second biggest thing – “The Big Winter Chop Down”. Yes, it will soon be that time when we cut down the summer growth and prune back ready for Spring growth. Yup, the “Big Winter Chop Down” can’t come soon enough. Whilst we gardeners love to plant and grow things, our next best thing is chopping things down, pruning, shredding, mulching and composting. We get to use sharp implements: blades, saws, knives, shears and a large variety of power tools and ladders; what’s not to like.
11th December: Things I have been doing lately
✂️ Cutting back Dame de Noche. Yes I know I am supposed to wait until January to start the big Chop Down, but I got over excited and couldn’t wait. I have so much to do that I have decided to get an early start. Think of it as like unwrapping your presents before Christmas Day. Now Dame de Noche needs to be cut back hard, so don’t be frightened. My plant is quite large and will grow to 2 metres in the summer; see the first photo below. But if you want good flowering and that lovely night scent then you have to act now. Whilst the plant is dormant you can cut it back to about 25cm. This looks brutal and you will be left with a bare branches, but only for a couple of months. Once the sap starts rising in the Spring it will be off again and covered with leaves ready for the lovely summer scents. The second picture below shows my Dame de Noche with it’s new haircut. Looks good eh?
🌳 Pruning back Standards to stop root rock. I must admit this does sound a bit like I am putting myself in moral jeopardy, but it only involved a quick trim of standard bushes. I have two main standards that are either side of a small gate to my swimming pool area. This can get quite windy at this time of year, and you will remember that in my last posting I complained about the high winds. Well they are back so these standards both had to be cut back to a smaller lollipop. If you leave standards then the wind will either knock them over and they will break, or else the wind will rock them and loosen their roots. The photo below shows the newly pruned standards.
🍊 Doing the Persimmon Snip. It will soon be time to prune trees, but I have decided to keep my hand in by pruning a small Persimmon tree that I put in two years ago. This small tree is about 5 foot tall and produced six lovely Persimmons last year. I expect it to produce many more next year, so I just had to remove any overlapping and crossing branches. If you look at the first photo below you will see the tree unpruned. It may look as if it doesn’t need pruning, but all those little crossing over branches will fill with leaf and stop air and light getting to the centre of the tree. The second photo shows the tree lightly pruned. This weeks competition is to find the difference.
🌿 Clearing up leaves. You can wait until all the leaves are off your trees before starting to pick them up. The exceptions to this are if you have leaves on a lawn, these must be cleared up straight away or they can kill the grass. The other exception is if you have leaves falling on gravel. If you leave them there they will eventually form a fine leaf mulch that will sink through the gravel and provide an excellent base for weed growth. The first photo below shows my Fig tree, whilst the second shows my Mulberry tree. Both trees are a rich source of large leaves which I compost in bags till next year. More about this later.
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