October 4th, 2010
I never head out into the garden empty-handed. I always take my little 5 min. basket and in that basket is always a pair of secateurs. I seldom wander through the garden without having found something in need of a bit of a prune. It may be a broken branch, a shoot heading in the wrong direction or a dead flower wanting to be removed. Sometimes I treat myself to a bunch of flowers to enjoy when I am inside.
It is possible, of course, to have a reasonable number of shrubs without having to do any regular pruning. Providing they are given plenty of room to grow, camellias, rhodeodendrons and many other common shrubs can do without any cutting at all for years and years. But I don’t think there is any garden at all that doesn’t need the use of a good pair of secateurs quite often.
When I am pruning anything at all I always remember the three D rule: get rid of all dead, diseased and damaged branches. This makes sense. After that I always remove branches that are growing towards the centre of the plant, for these cause congestion, block light, spoil the plant shape and make future pruning difficult.
I always try to look at where I am making the cut, and prune to a bud pointing in the direction I would like a new shoot to grow; the new shoot will head that way to fill a gap or replace an old branch that has been removed. Or, at least, that is the plan.
I find, of all the garden tasks, pruning is very rewarding. When the new growth starts to shoot you feel like you are working with the plant and helping it on its way.