When I informed Cruella (my wife) that I had invented a whole new gardening procedure to replace the Chelsea Chop, she instantly exploded saying if you think we are going vegetarian then you can forget it. After I had explained that the Chelsea Chop was not a cut of meat she calmed down, but kept mumbling about sausages for over half an hour. Anyway, all of you gardeners know what I mean and I am sure will share my excitement.
Normally the Chelsea Chop refers to a cutback of herbaceous perennials that takes place at the end of May in the UK and coincides with the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The aim is to cutback whilst the plants have had their first blooms and are still growing vigorously with the aim of getting much more flowering. This of course doesn’t apply to Spain, but after experimenting last year in July, I am proud to announce the Costa Blanca Cut (pat pending) is here to stay. I haven’t sold the film rights yet, but I want to be played by George Clooney whilst Cruella has expressed a preference for Morticia from the Addams Family.
Anyway on with the gardening.
30th July 2021. Things I have been doing lately.
The Costa Blanca Cut. Before beginning the Cut you need to decide which plants in your garden will benefit and assemble the necessary equipment. From my experiments so far any herbaceous woody perennials including Plumbago, Bignonia, Jasmine, Bougainvillea etc. If cut back now all should give a really strong second show of blooms. The photo below shows my assembled equipment.
Hedges. All across the front of my garden I have planted a large hedge that contains all the favourites that grow in the Costa Blanca. Over the years I have crowded more in and allowed them to fight for space to flower. This works exceptionally well and normally only requires a big cutback in January. But because the display can get a bit tired in July I invented the Costa Blanca Cut.
The first photos below show various aspects of my hedge in full bloom and before the Cut. Do not trim right back, but just shape the plant up by taking 6 to 12 inches off the stem. Click on each photo for a larger view.
The photos below show the hedge after the Costa Blanca Cut. As you can see the plants have been reshaped and lifted but they still have plenty of blooms. This will hopefully spur new growth into the Autumn. Click on each photo for a larger view.
Last but not least a sack of flowers that have been sacrificed for the greater good of the garden.
Trimming the Flowering column. Regular readers of this blog will recall that years ago I had a diseased palm cut down to about 12 ft which I then wrapped in mesh and used as a support for climbers. This has been a spectacular success and was a prime candidate for the Cut. The climbers include: Solanum, and Pink Trumpet Vine with a later addition of Stephanotis. The Trumpet Vine produces magnificent and showy seed pods up to a metre long, but I don’t want them now as this stops the plant re flowering. By trimming up now I will have more flowers plus the seed pods in late September. The photos below show the flowers column before and after its trim.
Cut down Sunflowers. By now your Sunflowers should be over and done with. By all means keep the seed head to feed the birds, but otherwise cut them down now. With my Sunflowers I just cut off the stem about 6 inches from the ground. By leaving the root in the ground till the Autumn I stop all the disruption that would entail by dragging a large root ball out from the middle of a plant packed border. The photo below shows some of my Sunflowers making their last journey to the compost bin. As I wheel the wheelbarrow to the bin I sing the requiem Pie Jesu it seems to comfort us all.
Keep trimming Lavender. If you want your Lavender to keep having successive flower stems, then you need to trim it back as soon as the flower stems go black. I explained in the last post how to do this so I won’t repeat here. But just to say where you have a large plant, or lots to do, don’t hesitate to use your hedge trimmers as they will do an excellent job and save you lots of time. The photo shows the big Lavender clumps by one of my water features which were trimmed with hedge trimmers at the same time as I was undertaking the big Cut on my hedges. Click on each photo for a larger view.
Thin fruit. I don’t normally thin citrus fruits as they usually take care of this themselves. Similarly with Figs, I patrol the trees every day and take fruit off as it becomes ripe. The exception is Persimmon. I have a small Persimmon tree which is now about 5 years old and provides me with a small selection of its lovely fruit each year. However, to make the fruit larger and to stop it dropping too many fruits, I thin where bunches of fruits are too close to each other. The photos below show prime candidates for thinning whereby I take out the middle fruit where there are three. Click on each photo for a larger view.