a seasons growth of fiery dogwood stems
March is the time to prune your dogwoods for winter colour.
Some clients look at me in horror as I cut the coloured stems of Cornus (Dogwood) to the ground at this time of year. Particularly if there isnt much colour elsewhere (So plant spring bulbs, snowdrops, hellebores, winter aconites etc). The best colour is seen in the one year old stems though, so cut them down now and by next winter they will be at their best.
Always worth sticking some prunnings in the ground (c 20cm long, young wood , pencil thick, cut above and below a node) as soon you’ll have more dogwood cuttings than you’ll know what to do with.
After a brief spell of dry weather Gareth took the opportunity to cut the grass and tall herbs flourishing in this negelected orchard in South Gloucestershire. The meadow had not been cut for some years so the coarse grasses, tall herbs and encroaching bramble had become quite dominant.
Whilst this is traditionally done in late summer, the wet ground delayed this annual task. However, there is some value in leaving tussocky meadows over winter, as habitat for mammals, invertebrates and the associated kestrels & owls!
Hopefully in time to experience the winter freeze that breaks their dormancy, some yellow rattle seeds were sown, the beginning of the process of reducing grass vigour in favour of a more diverse grassland flora.
Flail mowing a derelict orchard
Oso Berry or Indian Plum, Oemleria cerasiformis.
On a grey cold February morning, the white pendant racemes of this early flowering shrub are a real delight. A delicate fragrance and quite pleasant so this specimen is probably a female (the species is dioecious).
Native to the Pacific NW of continental America, the Oso Berry is the first deciduous native shrub to flower and is prized for its beauty and being a harbinger of spring.
Discovered whilst progressing with the renovation of a large shrubbery in North Somerset
Wisteria trained and pruned over winter produces the best spring flowering display
Trained wisteria, correctly trained & pruned
Cornus kousa, the Japanese Flowering Dogwood showing spectacular autumn colour. Both these images were from the same tree (a private garden in Henleaze, Bristol)
One of my favourite trees, the Katsura Tree, just beginning to show its autumn colour.
These two specimens are from the original planting of this spinney, late nineteenth century.
The fallen leaves fill the air with a sweet sugary smell – hence one of the trees names: the Toffee Apple Tree
Edwards Garden Services has recently completed the annual maintenance of yew hedges at a grade II listed private estate in North Somerset.
The original design of these yew hedges date back to c 1890′s though the current hedges were replanted c.1992.
Some re-shaping has been carried out during the last few years to realign the hedges with surrounding architecture.
Elsewhere on the 6 acre estate the original yew hedges are currently undergoing major renovation.
It has been almost a year since my last post so not to disappoint the hordes of followers, hanging on Edwards Garden Services every word, I thought it might be a good time to update you all on whats been happening.
In spite of the economic backdrop, Edwards Garden Services has been increasingly busy as the year progressed. With Joel getting to grips with his Hairy Bittercress and Enchanters Nightshade and myself wondering when I’m going to be too old to climb apple trees, our gardens have grown and improved.
Edwards Garden Services garden maintenance schedule includes occasional visits for seasonal tasks such as fruit tree pruning, hedge cutting and garden tidying, to weekly maintenance of large estates with formal lawns and borders.
Work in progress on re-shaping an old yew hedge in South Gloucestershire. It was reduced to its main stems, probably five years ago.
The more formally trimmed yew hedge against a back drop of yew topiary and mature woodland.
Unpruned Kolkwitzia stems
Kolkwitzia bark, pruned
One feature of shrubs often overlooked is their attractive bark, particularly in winter and someting to exhibit if the flowering season of the shrub is short.
Pruning can be adapted to show this feature to best effect.
A neglected Kolkwitzia - the Beauty Bush
Kolkwitzia - after renovation
Kolkwitzia, the Beauty Bush is an early summer flowering shrub, bearing masses of small pale pink, foxglove type flowers on arching stems of attractive pale, silvery peeling bark.
If left to its own devices, or (as often happens) just clipped over, it will develop into a thicket of tangled unsightly twigs, though a decent flower show should continue.
To get the best from the shrub, which includes exhibiting its attractive bark characteristics annual pruning helps. This would routinely be carried out after flowering but here, in late winter, you can carry out renovation (dead-wooding, thinning etc.) without removing too much flowering wood.
In time replacement shoots from the base, or a higher permanent framework, can be encouraged.