We are at our English house and it is pouring with rain, and just as I was about to go into the garden. In the meantime Cruella (my wife) has gone shopping with our idiot Son. We are having people round tonight and she is doing a buffet. When I asked what was for dinner she said “nothing special just the usual: Eye of newt and toe of frog, Wool of bat and tongue of dog, Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting, Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing”. Sounds yummy; I didn’t dare ask what we were drinking.
In the meantime I am stuck inside, unable to get near the garden because of the weather. The photo below shows my predicament. As we live right on the river bank it can look a bit miserable when it rains. But the second photo shows the lovely Autumn colours that are just creeping into the garden and that is some compensation.
12th October: Things I have been doing lately
✂️ Reshaping and pruning. To compensate for my lack of English gardening I thought I would tell you about the stuff I was doing just before I left Spain. As summer ends you need to prune and reshape plants that are normally kept in a nice tight growing shape. This is not the big annual cutback prune, but instead, this prune is aimed at keeping the plant tidy and pleasing to the eye. To this end I have begun to reshape plants that are normally pruned to shape. This includes my large Olive tree that I cloud pruned a few years ago. To keep this in shape you need to regularly prune it once every 2/3months.
Olive trees are ideal for cloud pruning as when they are pruned they keeps a nice tight growing shape that is ideal for amateur topiary. However, left to themselves they can become big large amorphous lumps that just sit in your garden like a dishevelled guest that has overstayed their welcome. I used to cloud prune with shears (as all purists should) but now I use an electric hedge trimmer and finish with shears.
The photo below shows my Olive tree after its pruning. Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo before, so you will just have to use your imagination.
🌳 Reshaping my standards. In this case I am not alluding to my morals or principles, but to those plants that look like lollipops on a stick. I only have two standards that sit inside my swimming pool gates. When in full flower and kept well shaped these look lovely. But of course during the flowering season you have to slow down on the trimming as otherwise you would be cutting off the flowers. This means that by the end of Summer standards can become overgrown and untidy.
The first photo below shows my standards looking rather unkempt. However, after a quick trim they are reshaped and ready for future Spring growth. After trimming I give them a good feed of a general purpose fertiliser that peps them up after the shock of pruning. Another important benefit of trimming standards at this time of year is that you will not suffer wind damage in Autumn breezes which can easily blow the plant over and destroy your lovely pot. In addition the plant will not suffer from “root rock” which by the way is not a form of music found in the USA Deep South. But, instead a problem whereby the plant is continually rocked by the wind and cannot ensure continuous root contact with the soil which in turn can kill the plant.