Friday, March 5, 2010

feeling passionate about pruning

I've caught garden fever good. It is March 5th. There is still significant snow on all the garden beds (and good -- I don't want anyone getting themselves frozen). And I am sitting here fantasizing about pruning. I don't even like pruning.

This year I really should prune the clematis at the side of the house. It's getting a little wild and a lot too big. Now, I could probably just add to the trellis -- the little white clematis, whatever the heck it is, would like that because it's heading its way up there anyways. The big pink one would probably appreciate having a little more space down lower to do its thing. The clematis out there was one of the success stories of my garden last year, one of the few. It just bloomed and bloomed and looked lovely, even when it was flopping over to take over the driveway.

I'm scared to prune it because I don't want to hurt it. But I think it's got to be done. There's dead wood in there, and if it was starting to get unruly last year it's definitely going to be unmanageable this year.

And then there's the forsythia. It's a monster in the back yard, this forsythia. I have slowly come to the conclusion that no matter what we do it will grow back. So all the old stems are going this year. We'll leave last year's new stems, and maybe a few from the year before. But everything else is getting pulled. The old 1/3 rule, but even more ruthless than I've ever been with a shrub. Then perhaps I will be able to see the campanula and the ferns and the phlox without having my eye poked out.

The dogwood, planted two springs ago, which came down from Ottawa with me when I returned home, needs tidying. It did super-well last year, so I'm going to hack it back into a nicer shape. I'll be much more gentle with it than I will be with the forsythia; it's not overgrowing its welcome. But the younger shoots are the reddest shoots, and so a little gentle pruning right about now should be good.

The rose in the front is getting transplanted this year. I've been saying that for years, but this time I really mean it. But first it will have to be chopped back to something I can actually move. And I need to clear a place for it. (Getting rid of some daylilies, they're overgrowing their welcome, too, along with the forsythia.) I will try to move the rose as soon as the ground is unfrozen. I have tried to kill this rose for three years now, and it's not dying, so I suspect it will handle my abusive transplantation.

There's a pair of wigelia, one of which seems to ignore everything and just does its thing, and another which seems to ignore everything and looks pathetic all the time. Sadly, the one I like is the pathetic one. I need to do a good trimming of it this year, just after it blooms. The other one could probably use a bit of a whack-back, too.

Oh, and the raspberries. I need to get armed with heavy leather gloves (and probably a jacket and a neck-protector, frankly) and some hefty shears and go after those as soon as they start to leaf out. They are out of control. And vicious.

And then there's the spirea in the front which I hate but haven't gotten rid of yet, and it's not just out of control, it's so ugly it makes me cross-eyed each time I look at it. Except when it blooms. And its little leaves are rather attractive. I might be convinced to keep it, but I can't let it go another year without hacking it all the way back, digging out its vicious little suckers, and probably digging out at least half of it. Which I'm sure the periwinkle will thank me for, grr.

Oh, and while we're speaking of the front, I think I've maybe let the sandcherry go on too long without pruning. That I'll do after it flowers.

Um. I think I've maybe got my hands full. This weekend I'm taking some flagging tape out there to decorate the branches that will have to go. The upside of my pruning enthusiasm? I now actually want to take the compost out so that I can go and inspect the shrubs without their leaves.

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