Monday, 15 January 2007

Back to the borders – frost forecasted!

This morning I finally managed to get back out into my garden. Although still very windy it was quite pleasant, no rain and the sun even broke through for a brief while. There have been a few jobs I have wanted to do, and it is not unheard of for me to garden in the rain, but the winds have made it very unpleasant to be out. I was very pleased with what I achieved today. I particularly enjoyed the pruning!

Wisteria, shown above, received the first cuts from my secateurs today. Pruning, I find, quite a satisfying job. Although I am known on occasions to get a tad too zealous! Today’s job on the wisteria is the last before it flowers. I have only been successful with flowers in the last two years. Ironically after trying many methods of pruning, my plant of 8/9 years, flowered after I was brutal with it! I decided if it couldn’t yield flowers than it could yield a better shape – I pruned it hard back to main stems, cutting away branches that spoilt it. I never considered taking it out as I love the dripping form of the leaves hanging over my pergola. I was also ever hopeful every year in the spring when I inspected the new growth believing this year … it could flower.

I now prune my wisteria three times. First cut is in the summer taking out the extremely long whippy new growth – it makes it look better too. Second cut is in late autumn pruning back to four pairs of buds. Today I cut back to two pairs of buds - I usually do this in January- early February depending on the temperatures. If I am lucky again this year with flowers I must better take care of them – they looked very weak and dried out last year. That should have told me the problem – too dry! I have since read in a magazine or heard on TV that when in flower a wisteria should be well watered. I’ll try that this year. I should have beautiful, white scented flowers so here’s hoping….

I am also hoping that this year I will significantly increase my stock of the black grass - Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens'. Today I pulled off its berries, shown in photo above, and pushed them into the soil– spacing them around the parent plants. I do enjoy this expectation of new plants – successful or not. This plant can also be propagated by division from a larger clump but I am not always succesful with this method but it is definitely worth a try. I have to say though I did feel a tad uncomfortable planting the berries today – they looked too much like the eggs of the New Zealand Flatworm!! I usually put these eggs in a jar of salted water – as worms they digest earthworms and each egg can produce up to seven worms. We must destroy them to stop them spreading.

I managed to tidy and weed two other borders today, pruning again as necessary. I weed by hand with a small fork and I always like the look of the soil after being forked over – the border looks tended and cared for. I still have more areas to do. I also had some extremely late bulb planting to do – I forgot about my tulip bulbs! The tulips are ‘Uncle Tom’ and are said to be unique in colour which is a glowing deep maroon red. They have already started to shoot new growth so I planted them two in a pot and if they come up okay I will then plant them out in the borders.

For advice on Wisteria pruning and flower failure see the links and

For more details on the New Zealand Flatworm see the links and

The photograph of my pruned Wisteria was taken on January 15th 2007.

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