Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Haircut

I went to get my hair cut and somehow the conversation gravitated towards landscaping and cleaning up the garden.  She has no idea what I do in regard to writing a blog or just being obsessed with gardening.

Panicum Ruby Ribbons
This is a smaller Panicum which will layer in front of my Lythrum Morden's Pink, especially when it is cut down.  I am very pleased to see this color early in the summer without it being an annual grass.  This is a grass that can be left up for the winter.

Penstemon Hamelin
This is a totally carefree grass and can be left up over the winter.

Miscanthus Udine
I have a difficult time cutting this down when it is so beautiful.  It does flop, so I may neaten it up a bit and leave it up.  I know it will be extra work in the spring!

Miscanthus Little Kitten
It is recommended that this grass not be cut down in the fall.

Panicum Northwind
This is the flagship grass in my garden, left up over the winter and pops back up after the snow melts.

Being a working mother of three she said she just doesn't have the time to cut down everything before the snow flies.  So, she is hiring a landscaping company to cut down all the perennials, trim all of the boxwood, shrubs and some limbs off the trees!

Boxwood Green Velvet
I trimmed my boxwood in July and you can see that the growth since then is a lighter green.  In my zone five area it is not recommended that you prune boxwood after August 1st.  I did last year and had a lot of burn on the newer growth. 

I almost jumped out of the chair saying don't trim the boxwood, evergreens or trees now.  Also, be careful which shrubs you prune now or you won't have flowers next spring.

Viburnum Carlesi Compactum
As you can see the buds are fully formed to bloom next spring.  Prune right after flowering.

PJM Rhododendron
The Rhodies all have their buds for bloom next spring.  They should be pruned right after flowering.

Azalea Karen
Prune after flowering in late spring, keeps leaves all winter

The Lilies should not be cut down until they yellow or the bulbs will not have enough stored food to bloom the following year.

I am sure my landscaper knows what to do!  This is a very common reaction, we assume that people who cut grass know what to do with everything on our property.

My neighbor has a landscaper that trims everything in late July. thus the Viburnum does not bloom the following spring, or the Amelanchier (which is cropped down to hedge size) or the Rhodies which are topped off.  This is not an unusual occurrence if you do not know the timeline of the various flowering shrubs.

Neighbor's Viburnum
Not a bud in sight

Amelanchier (Serviceberry)
Cut into a ball, no flowers this year, no berries

All spring flowering shrubs need to be pruned immediately after flowering, early summer flowering shrubs before the end of July and fall flowering shrubs in the spring.  Certain hydrangeas grow on old and new wood so it doesn't matter when you prune them, but some only grow on old wood. 

Forsythia Greenstem
Low growing, blooms in spring, prune right after flowering

Weigela Dark Horse
Blooms late spring, prune right after blooming

Ninebark Summer Wine
This is a summer blooming shrub and can be pruned and trimmed back until August 1st.  Beyond that you take a chance that there will not be any flowers the next year.

Limelight Hydrangea
This hydrangea grows on old or new wood, can be pruned in spring or fall, but why would I prune it now?  The flowers will slowly turn to a pleasing tan and stay on all winter.

Hydrangea Unique
Blooms on old and new wood, can be pruned in spring and fall, however the blooms do not age well past the rosy pink stage.

I am going to experiment with Endless Summer Hydrangeas this year and not cut them back at all along with my Starlight Hydrangeas, no cut back for either.  We will see if this makes any difference in regard to the amount of blooms.  I am also going to feed all of my acid loving plants before the end of the month (I read this on the Internet last year and it seemed to work with tons of blooms, except for Endless Summer because they are very nitrogen reactive).

Hydrangea Let's Dance Starlight

Certain plants benefit from being left standing for the winter, like Agastache, Centranthus and Lavender need to have the stems left up in the colder climates.

Aster Monte Casino in the middle will be transplanted into the raised bed on the south side where I pulled out Purple Dome Aster.  Monte Casino is a florist aster used in arrangements but it is also hardy in my area and if pinched back to keep it full is a beautiful plant and not attractive to rabbits.

I had great success with cutting down my Autumn Clematis in the fall because I don't want it sitting up on the wood pergola all winter with the snow and ice.  It bloomed just great this year not caring at all, in fact I believe most type 3's could be cut down in the fall if late enough with no problem.

Autumn Clematis

February is a recommended time of year to prune most tree limbs (in the colder zones) because the sap is not running.  The time of trimming is also dependent upon the species of tree.  Of course if a limb is dead or diseased it needs to be cut off.  Tree trimming is a year round occurence but winter or early spring is the ideal.  Check out your local university extension recommendations for specific zones.

I can't believe that a haircut prompted a blog on pruning!


Bernie said...

I hope you gave her the benefit of your expertise and knowledge. I find it interesting to read all about pruning these plants even though none of them are familiar to me. It's obviously a labour of love for you.

Larry said...

Hi Eileen... I always appreciate your commentaries on grasses as I have very limited knowledge regarding them and don't want any heavy seeders or aggressive cultivars. I'm trying boxwood for the first time... installed 21 Green Mountains around the gazebo yesterday. Larry

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

I love your grasses! They will look great in winter. As for the pruning, I do make mistakes sometimes, especially with hydrangeas. I'll try to hold my hands back and keep them as they are this year. I read that hydrangeas are OK if they left without any pruning.

Lona said...

Hi Eileen. I am trying to get past the fact that your Rhododendron leaves are turning colors. None of mine do this. Is it just the type that it is?
I love seeing the grasses this time of the year. My favorite is your Miscanthus grass. The seed heads just sparkle so in the sunlight.
Have a wonderful weekend.

scottweberpdx said...

Great post...I can't believe how often I see people clipping off next year's blooms on so many's crazy! I have a Miscanthus that also flops (seemingly the second it starts to flower). I've taken to corseting it with twine...doesn't looks as graceful as it could, but oh well.

Gatsbys Gardens said...


I have learned the hard way trimming plants at any old time and then wondering where all the flowers went.


Gatsbys Gardens said...


You will love the Green Mountain Boxwood, pretty carefree, little general fertilizer and little trimming each year and they are happy.

Panicum Northwind would be a nice grass for you since it was discovered in Wisconsin. You also might like some of the Molinas, they are pretty see through and plants show behind them.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Thanks Tatyana,

I am investigating some of the smaller grasses that don't overpower the garden especially in the front borders.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Lona,

I am not sure why the leaves turn red on the Rhodies, maybe it is the variety. I used to worry about this but they come back fine each spring. The miscanthus is striking but they do tend to flop in the snow.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Scott,

I have given in to ringing some of my favorites also, especially the grasses I have planted along a fence or stone wall. If I want them to look decent I have to do this. It is best to do this in the spring when they first start to come up. I bought some inexpensive metal rings at Home Depot and I also have some heavier ones from Gardeners Supply.


CanadianGardenJoy said...

Eileen girl this was a cute conversation piece on "when to and when not to" trim .. I have to do a bit of triming and clean up in the back garden .. I have put it off long enough .. and make those notorious notes on what I want to do in Spring that I forget every year !
I have to replace my serviceberry (which is a whole other story) and I wanted to pick your brains on what kind of a non fruiting smallish tree you could suggest for me .. ever since I knew I was going to have to do this I have driven myself nuts .. so if you have any suggestions off the top of your head .. I would appreciate it : ) I have to be ready for next Spring already ? ;-)

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Joy,

A multi-stemmed Redbud is a beauty. I had one at my last home and loved it. It is an understory tree, meaning not out in the middle of the garden, has beautiful flowers in the spring and yellow heart shaped leaves in the fall, zone 4 and up.


Zoey said...

I had to laugh about the haircut inspiring the post. But plants do need haircuts, too.

You have some very nice grasses. I hope when mine grow up they look as nice.

leavesnbloom said...

I wish grasses did well for me but after trying so many miscanthus I've now given up. I've had clients put their trust too in landscapers - but many of them haven't really got much of a clue...... but they are good at building patios and decking! My hydrangeas never get touched as they are always cut back by the frost - but after reading an earlier post of yours I think I will have to prune my Limelight in the spring.

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Zoey,

I really have to watch the sizes of the grass I buy, no room left for those really large ones.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

I know what you mean about the frost Rosie. I am leaving Endless Summer unpruned but it will probably die back to the ground. I do prun the Limeight in a semi-circle to give it a pleasing shape.


Jennifer@threedogsinagarden said...

Hi Eileen, Your haircut has produced a wealth of helpful information! I did not know about the boxwood rule of August 1st. (I have a low hedge of box around the circle garden.) I will pay closer attention to the date, before doing any trimming next year.
I really liked your comment about some landscape companies. You are right! Most people who cut grass have no two clues about pruning. You ask them to prune and wanting to be paid, I am sure many of them are only to happy to oblige.

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Jennifer,

I am not sure what zone you are in but if it is zone 5 or lower, lots of plantings can suffer damage if cut at the wrong time. I did trim my roses down somewhat but I will mound some dirt and mulch around the base.


Beth said...

Eileen, This is a very informative post! You are a great teacher!

Gloria, Dakota Garden said...

Eileen, I am always amazed as I scroll down and look at each one of your amazing pictures! You are a gardener!

Jenny Schouten Short said...

You are my source of inspiration! xo Jenny

joey said...

Nice post, Eileen. Appreciate the time is must have taken! Good info. We hired an Arborist (crew) last weekend who pruned our huge old elm hanging over the house and large old maples (in cherry pickers). Autumn Joy :)

Karen said...

Hello Eileen, I'm glad your haircut inspired you to write this post because it is very informative. I was just thinking how nice it would be to hire someone to come in and clean up this mess of mine. (I'd get a shock when I saw the bill, though, I bet, dang I have a big garden....)

Great information on when and when not to prune!

I love the Northwind, too. Such a beautiful grass.


Thank you for the gentle reminder that I need a haircut--in my garden. :)

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Thanks Beth,

I guess you can never get away from what you have done previously.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Thanks Gloria,

I am trying but as you know gardening is a lifetime experience.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Joey,

I have had many old trees trimmed and lost some in the process, but I guess it is just life even with trees.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Karen, I don't know how you keep up with everything. You have such a great property.