I’ve had a very leafy couple of days in the garden, despite this being the time of year when all the flowering plants start to really demand attention. Yesterday was all about pruning. I am gradually trying to tame the large evergreens we inherited when we moved here almost two years ago now – those we left, anyway! Along the back fence, in the north-facing border, we have a Bay tree, an enormous Griseliana littoralis, and a very pretty but rather lopsided Drimys lanceolata. I missed out on pruning these last year because by the time I got around to it we had a family of blackbirds in the Griselinia. The ideal time to prune them, according to my handy RHS guide to pruning, is late winter/early Spring, when they start back in to growth, or in the case of the Drimys, after flowering. Since I wanted to drop the height of all of them, I wanted to prune them altogether, which meant waiting for the Drimys to finish flowering. Except that I really wanted to make sure that I didn’t find the same thing happened as last year, and we had nesting birds. So last Autumn I pruned the front half of the Griselinina back hard, exposing the centre of the plant, making it inhospitable for nesting. I felt mean, but I figured by next year it will once again be providing a good nesting location. So I enjoyed the flowers on the Drimys…
…and then removed the strange hump on the right hand side and cleared the trunk to turn it from a bush into a small tree. Suddenly I have gained a whole new planting opportunity. Although the border is north facing, the fence behind it is low, and the whole border gets a surprising amount of sun.
The Griseliana still looks appalling, one of the down sides of vigorous renovation pruning, but it had become a huge sprawling monster, in desperate need of taming, and thankfully it is already sprouting new growth from the base.
These shrubs have a very neat habit, producing long straight growth from low down covered in bright green slightly wavy-edged leaves. The Drimys has a tendency to sucker, so I will have to work at keeping the trunk clear and remove shoots from around the base, but in the mean time I discovered a freebie, a suckered mini tree that I will be able to separate from its parent, pot up, and then give away.
One of the great delights in starting a new garden has been discovering new plants. I wasn’t familiar with either of these shrubs, but love them both. The only reason I know what they are is because when I first moved here I asked you bloggers for help in identifying them, and I am hoping that you can enlighten my ignorance again. While I was working in the back border I discovered a strange (to me) new plant emerging. Any ideas? I don’t recall seeing it last year, but there again this border was completely choked with ivy.
I’ve not finished pruning the back border, I still have to decide what height to take it all down to, and whether I can rescue a rather leggy and unhappy looking pittosporum that was being swamped by the griselinia. This is presenting me with an interesting choice. In the past I would have wanted to make sure I blocked off the houses behind us, and preferably the houses behind them too, so that all I could see looking out across the garden was plants and sky. Except that since moving here I have grown to really enjoy having a low fence at the back and gaps between which I can chat to the neighbours. Not to mention the fact that the more I drop the height of the shrubs at the back the more light I let in to the garden. So on the analysis that, like a radical new haircut, if I hate it I can always let it grow back, I am going to take the height really quite low, and not worry over much about filling the gaps between which I can glimpse the neaighbours’ gardens. We are lucky in that the way the three gardens all relate to one another means we are still very private when we are sat on our patio, but I like the more sociable side of lower boundaries.
Which brings me rather neatly to my other big leafy encounter. Which generated this:
We have another Griselinia in what I call the park border, which had also grown quite enormous. Chatting to M, whose garden is one of those that backs on to ours, we discovered that he used to have a view of the sea out across our boundary fence from the step inside his kitchen. Over the past four years everything has grown up and obscured this view, and although we had already cleared enough of the wild ivy and self-seeded shrubs to restore some of his view, we also knew he would get an even better one if we reduced the height of the griselinia too. Since we have no issued with privacy between us and the park because of the way the land slopes, we decided to drop the height of it to roughly level with the top of the fence in the hope that it would give him a better view.
I’ve not finished with it yet, but I wanted to take some time to decide just how narrow to go with this one. I quite fancy aiming for a quite formal rectangular pillar effect, to counter the wilder plants around. I rather enjoy pruning, but I am glad that we are close to finally getting on top of the larger shrubs we inherited, it was hard work getting to grips with these monsters, and generated an enormous pile of prunings – which happily TNG has already shredded. Of course it would have been easier if the blade hadn’t jammed in our wonderful reciprocating saw. Or if we hadn’t lost the heavy duty loppers. Which of course I promptly found again once I was just about finished!
Not really a conventional celebration of all things leafy, so I will leave you with a selection of the foliage in my garden that is making my heart sing at the moment, and encourage you to pop over to Christina’s blog and check out the other posts about foliage.