Between showers I’m pruning. Finally getting on with the vine, finishing the wisteria and starting the 100 -odd roses.
The weather this coming week is pretty mild - 19 down to about 4 degrees.
For those of you who are in this part of France: L&G / Dordogne / Gironde / Gers (parts of) what are your views on hacking back the buddleias, the oleanders and the fig tree (which I take right back to chest height knobbly stumps) now? Or should I wait?
I’m not the person you want to follow as I just wing it! We gave our figs a big prune, they are huge and old, I’m sure they’ll be fine Too wet here to fancy getting out but buddleia I’ll do soon. Forgot about the vines, again, must do them soon too!
Cut them back ruthlessly now, down to two buds that are already beginning to bulge. I always rely on what I see happening in local towns and villages, Round here at least (L&G) the professional gardeners are brutal and the hydrangeas always look magnificent come high season.
Interestingly, I’ve just started to look at a guy’s video who says they flower on previous season’s growth - not my experience, so Mark, I can only emphasise, see what happens in public gardens in your locality.
I would say, there are lovely white triangular hydrangeas that grow on spindly stems - those I leave until later when less danger of frost.
They are thugs! Do the major prune during deepest winter and cut back to a good framework if there isn’t one already. If you want to extend / grow the amount of wall it covers then cut back one or two tendrils, attach them to whatever support there is, leaving a few budding points. It’s good to keep the tendrils horizontal, that way you can see the flowers as they hang down. Otherwise, cut all the long tendrils (that is one season’s growth!) back to their budding point, maybe leaving an extra bud for (hopefully) more flowers. Bit like apple trees, you want knobbly flowering points.
Almost certainly you will be pruning again in summer just to keep it under control. I hope yours has got a good amount of space to flourish and also a strong structure. Ours hasn’t - it is immediately below the roofline so we spend all the summer cutting back the long tendrils that are fighting to get under the roof tiles. I also loop ropes over the guttering brackets and then under the woody wisteria branches to give support.
Pruning down to two budding stems seems severe, but as the local gardeners attest, it’s the secret to stunning hydrangeas. While Mark’s advice on previous season’s growth is intriguing, local gardens remain the truest classroom for mastering hydrangea care .
Ah, I’ve just had a thought. I have lots of short brown stems from pruning, each with at least two bi-lateral, possibly more, buds. Those buds will grow strongly and tall - up to waist height at least - and will flower.
Some stems come right up from the base, new, healthy growth, which again will flower.
Would that be described as flowering on previous year’s wood?
I know this is a slight aside but some years ago I bought some secateurs as recommended by, I think, Which. They have been wonderful compareed with every other pair I’ve bought before or since. Unfortunately, they are now atarting to fail and I want to replace them. The cheap ones are useless and the Felco ones are eye-wateringly expensive so I’m hoping for some recommendations from you gardening folk. Are Felco really worth it? What’s your experience?
(By the way, before you suggest I use the same brand as I got before, I can’t remember and haven’t seen anything like them. Began with a “D” I think and had red handles)
I only buy felco these days. Yes they are expensive, but not eye-wateringly and are so much more robust /reliable than any of the cheaper ones I’ve bought. I like the fact that you can get replacement blades too which are easy to replace.
Another vote for spending the money on Felco’s. I also lost a pair in the garden and discovered them years later in a horrible condition, sent them off for €26 maintenance/repair and got brand new pair in return as were judged unrepairable. Our local garden centre also does spare parts.