This post is really a continuation of the second stage of the big cutback set out in the last post. By now I should have been on to the third stage of pruning the Roses, but two things have been distracting me. Firstly, Cruella (my wife) flew home from our English house and her visit with our idiot son. Secondly, I spend most nights keeping vigil with the flowering (and dying) Attenuata mentioned in the last post (more later).
Cruella’s flight home was more eventful than normal. Usually she just flys straight home and lands in a tree in our wild wood were she perches till the morning. However, low cloud meant that I had to lay out a landing strip for her on the lawn with tea lights. Unfortunately she overshot and landed in the big mulberry tree. Thank goodness the tree is ok. The photo below shows the lawn as I laid it out according to her instructions, goodness knows how she missed.
15th December. Things I have been doing lately:
🪚 Pruning Dame de Noche. Everyone in Spain should have at least one dame de noche planted close to their sitting areas. The scent from this night scented Jasmine is intoxicating. However, to keep the plant flowering and providing you with that lovely scent, then you have to do a bit of pruning.
The pruning you should be doing now is the big prune. You need to cut the plant back by at least two thirds, just leaving a mound of shaped stems to form the New Years growth. The easiest way to do this is to firstly use electric hedge trimmers to take it back to create a basic mound of stems. Then using lopers get into the stems and prune out any that are dead or crossing .
The first photo below shows the dame de noche in its unpruned state. The second shows the lopers getting to work. The final photo shows the finished pruned plant. This will grow by at least six foot this year. (Click on each photo for a larger view).
🪓 Cutting back fountain grass. All grasses need to be pruned back heavily once each year if you hope to keep them looking their best. Nothing looks worse than a grass that has been left unpruned as the overall effect is of a floppy misshapen mound. By cutting back your grasses now you will ensure fast new growth with tall stems standing and waving in the wind. The photos below shows my fountain grass before and after its annual prune. (Click on each photo for a larger view).
⚔️ Pruning back Pink Trumpet vine. Regular readers of this blog will know that instead of fully cutting down dead palm trees, I instead use them as a prop for climbing plants such as Trumpet vine. This gives you a tremendous aerial display of flowers in what would otherwise be an arid stump sticking out of the ground. Most of my Trumpet vines are in my hedges and they won’t be cutback till January as they are mixed in with other hedging. But in this case it is a stand alone plant which is part of the structural look of the garden. The photos below show the plant before and after its cutback. (Click on each photo for a larger view).
🍷 Pruning grapevines. This year has not been a good one for my grapevines. To be honest they haven’t even got going so I was glad to prune them back as I feel guilty every time I look at them. With grapevines the technique is very simple just trim off all side shoots leaving just the main stem of the vine. Over the years the main stem of the vine will become very thick and strong. When the weather warms up in the Spring it will send out new fruit bearing side shoots.
I have three grapevines. The main one grows along the front of the house and I have trained it on wires. Unfortunately because this one grows so close to the wall it tends to suffer from mildew in late Summer; nevertheless I grow it more for ornamental purposes rather than fruit. The other two grow along the swimming pool balustrade and because of air flow never get mildew. You can see the before and after photos below. (Click on each photo for a larger view).
🧛 Scarifying the lawn. This time of year, when the grass has stopped growing, is a good time to deal with the thatch of dead grass that will impede new growth next Spring. I have a scarifying machine that is so fierce and noisy that I dread bringing it out each year. The machine has fearsome rollers with scarifying tines that scratch at the grass accompanied with slitting knives that cut into the lawn; it is like something out of “Game of Thrones”. I basically start it up then hang on behind it as it rampages around the lawn covering me in a thick layer of dust and grass. The end result looks like the Sahara desert, which I then finish off by hand scarifying. The photo below shows what I call my desertification process.
☠️ Tending to the flowering Agave Attenuata. I asked Cruella to take this photo of me with the flowering (but dying) Attenuata. It is just so that I can show her babies what their mother looked like in all her glory. I will keep you informed of progress; I wanted to post daily bulletins on our gates but Cruella won’t let me.