Invisible intervention – making space

In my experience people are afraid to prune and take control but I see this as the pivotal role of the gardener. To garden is a verb, it is a doing thing, gardening is a creative process, a collaboration with nature and the gardener has to decide what stays and what goes (e.g. take control of self seeding), how big things are allowed to get (e.g. spreading perennials, size of shrubs) and even the shape of trees and shrubs. This month gentle tweaking will make the garden look even better, here are some tips:

  • Pull up 90% of Lunaria annua (honesty), leaving a few plants so that you still have some plants for next year. This will free up a lot of space in the beds and prevent too much seeding. I love the early purple flowers in the garden.
  • Be ruthless and dig up any Aquilegia in the wrong place or the wrong colour, this will also reduce seeding of this prolific perennial.
  • Snip off the seedheads of Aquilegia that have gone over, you can be quite ruthless, they are tough plants.
  • Cut back Arabis (Rock Cress) once it has finished flowering, there will be a lot to cut away but you will be left with a neat cushion.
  • Tidy and deadhead Pulmonarias
  • Pull up 90% of self seeding annuals & biennials as they start to pass their best (e.g. forget-me-nots, foxgloves)
  • Dig up / reduce a good number of self seeded perennials (e.g. Papaver cambricum, the Welsh Poppy – in my garden they pop up everywhere).
  • The chelsea chop, I have cut back half of my Campanula ‘Loddon Anna’, they are big plants so it also controls size a bit too.
  • Keep an eye on those weeds, I have small patches of bind weed and then there is the ever present bittercress that can set seed in only 8 weeks.
  • Staking, this needs to be done as early as possible (e.g. May). I move my metal cradle supports around the garden as plants get cut back / go over and others need support.
  • There is pruning to do too, at the weekend I pruned the Choisya ternata and the inherited Lonicera nitida both of which can be thugs unless kept in check.Done right, this removal of plants should not show!