The idiot son has gone, Cruella has taken to his bed and I am in winter cutback heaven

The above heading says it all. Yes, the idiot son has gone back to ruin the UK banking system (move your savings). Cruella (my wife) has in the meantime sunk into the abyss of despair at losing someone she can mother and has taken to his bed wearing his hoodie and refuses to come out of his room. I meanwhile have been prioritising and getting on with the big winter cutback.

The only slight drawback is that the evil Peacock is still here, but at least he is patrolling outside the gate. The first picture shows Cruella (my wife) in her moment of despair (I will have to hide when she sees that I have posted this). The second picture shows the evil Peacock patrolling outside our gates, whilst Tango the lonely blind Labrador looks the wrong way. Click on each photo for a larger view.

Let’s get on with the gardening there is so much to do.

6th January 2022. Things I have been doing lately:

The big winter cutback. Your garden this summer will be defined by your actions over the next few weeks. Now is the time to cutback your plants fiercely, in order that they will be reinvigorated for the summer. Failure to cutback now will leave your plants weak, leggy and prone to disease. The cutback is also an opportunity to redefine the sight lines and paths in your garden and to freshen and renew your whole plot, whether it is a terrace or a plantation.

There are two main approaches to the big winter cutback.

  1. You can take a plant based approach, where you cutback your garden by plant type over a few weeks.
  2. You can take an area based approach where you cutback all the plants in a particular area of your garden at the same time.

Normally I favour the former but I will cover an area based approach in my next post.

Pollarding Californian False Pepper. The false pepper is a common site in our part of Spain with its weeping willow looks and its strings of small red berries. However, if left it can be unsightly and messy, growing to a huge size and discarding its berries into your pool and over your terrace in strong winds.

The secret to getting the best out of this tree is to pollard it hard every couple of years. It will soon grow back and provide you with its weeeping willow look, but this time in a manageable shape. The photos below show my false pepper, before, during and after its pollard. Click on each photo for a larger view.

Cutting back and dividing Cannas. If you have followed my advice (and I am sure you have), then you will have left your Cannas to go fully brown and withered to allow the goodness to go back down to the corm. I know this can look unsightly for a few weeks, but it is worth it as your Cannas will be refreshed and bursting with vigour for the summer. The photos below show my Cannas ready for cutting back. Click on each photo for a larger view.

The secret to cutting back cannas is to cut them off about 3 to 4 inches from the ground. By doing this you are ensuring that the plant will not think it can start sprouting again, and also by leaving a stalk of 3-4 inches you will stop ground water from seeping down and rotting the corm. The photos below show my cutting technique together with examples of what the finished cutback should look like. Click on each photo for a larger view.

The good thing about Canna is that they multiply under the soil and provide you with lots of new Cannas either to plant elsewhere in your garden or to pass on to friends. All you have to do is carefully dig up the clumps of corms every two to three years, divide them, and then replant them about 4 inches deep with the eyes on the corms facing upwards. The first photo below shows my gentle, but efficacious digging process, followed by my bounty of new corms ready to replant. Click on each photo for a larger view.

Trimming Weeping Ficus. Variegated Weeping Ficus are a common sight in the gardens of the Costa Blanca where they bring colour and interest. However, they can become shapeless lumps, so I think it is a good idea to do a little cloud pruning to bring some shape and expose their lovely white bark. The photo below shows my annual efforts before and afterwards. Click on each photo for a larger view.

Cutting back my flowering column. Regular readers of this blog will know that, some years ago, I created a flowering column of climbers around the trunk of a cut down palm. This is stunning in the summer and simply needs to be trimmed back with a hedge trimmer this time of year to keep it in shape. Cruella insisted that I involve the idiot son in some of my garden work as she accuses me of not spending enough time with him. Anyway, the photo below shows him helping; I insisted that he put his hat round the right way before starting but he still seems to be failing to follow the instructions on his belt.

Cruella insisted that he was not to go up ladders or do anything dangerous. She is standing just behind him out of picture with a safety net and I had to nail the step ladder to the ground.

Cutting back Dame de Noche. Night scented Jasmine is a lovely plant to have near a seating or dining area outdoors. It gives off a heavenly perfume that once smelled is unforgettable. However, like many Spanish plants, to get the best out of them you have to be cruel to be kind and cutback hard. You need to cutback your Dame de Noche by at least two thirds at this time of year. If you do it now then you are guaranteed that intoxicating scent in mid summer.

The first photo below shows my Dame de Noche in its uncut state standing at some 9 foot. The second photo shows it cut back to about 3 foot, but next year I will go lower. Click on each photo for a larger view.

Author: spanishgarden

I live in both Spain and the UK and am a very keen gardener. I garden every day and enjoy sharing all the secrets that God allows us to discover in our gardens.

2 thoughts on “The idiot son has gone, Cruella has taken to his bed and I am in winter cutback heaven”

  1. Hi Tony,
    It is a busy time for we gardeners. I start the Roses tomorrow and that is always a bloodbath. Then it’s on to grasses and shrubs, followed by hedges then finally the big Ficus.
    I have never grown Canna from seed and I’m not to sure if mine ever get as far as making seed, I normally snip the dead flowers. However, I do subdivide the corms every so often.


  2. This is precisely what I have been doing, and will do for quite a while. I did roses all day, and will do more tomorrow. I must eventually prune the hydrangeas. Cannas were cut down already. They frosted early this year. I hope they do not try to regenerate, only to get frosted again.
    Hey, do you grow cannas from seed? If so, do you scarify the seed like everyone else does? (Do your cannas even produce seed?)


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