How to Prune: Ornamental Trees and Shrubs

Ornamental Trees and Shrubs

 

Ornamental trees and shrubs can be pruned and trimmed to keep healthy and shapely.

Timing can vary significantly between different varieties, but as a general rule:

Evergreen shrubs will require little pruning unless branches become damaged. If you do find the need to remove damaged shoots on varieties such as Japanese AzaleasHebe Heartbreaker or Rhododendrons then it’s best to do so after flowering has finished for the season.

Azalea-Glowing-Embers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deciduous shrubs and trees are best pruned in late autumn and winter, although we always recommend checking specific varieties before your start working. Some varieties will only need minor trimming such as Hydrangeas or Spiraea while clematis and climbing plants often require hard pruning.

Winter-Pruning

As a starting point cut back and remove all dead and diseased wood. Always work with the natural habit and structure of the tree or shrub, to encourage continued natural growth. This can be followed up with removing any crossing or rubbing branches at the centre of the plant. By removing these branches which can act as a barrier to further growth, you will in fact improve circulation around the shrubs/tree, helping to reduce the likelihood of plant disease.

When removing stems, we suggest cutting at a little above healthy buds, cutting back around 0.5cm above. Never cut back and leave short stubs. Make all cuts perpendicular to the branch and close to the branch collar to facilitate rapid healing.

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Winter Favourites

winter-birdbath

 

When autumn leaves are falling, there’s a chill in the air and gardeners across the country are frantically trying to get the last of that yeas plants in the ground before a frost settles in you know that winter is well on its way!

With some careful planning there is no reason for the cold winter months to mean the drab winter months in your garden!

Our favourite Winter Shrubs…

This is a rundown of our favourite winter flowering shrubs guaranteed to breathe some life and colour back into a winter garden.

Viburnum

Very hardy, deciduous shrubs which produce dense clusters of richly perfumed flowers, often followed by berries. There are a dizzying array of viburnum varieties, with huge variations in leaf shape and forms of flower heads, some are evergreen and some deciduous, some flower in winter – others late in spring! The variety and versatility make them invaluable for gardeners seeking all year round interest – Viburnums are our 2016 November Plant of the month – you can find that article HERE.

Our Top choice Viburnum | Viburnum x bodnantense Dawn

viburnum-bodnantense-dawn

 

A very hardy, deciduous shrub which produces dense clusters of richly perfumed, deep rose pink flowers which eventually fade to candyfloss pink, and eventually white by late spring. In summer, attractive round purple berries are produced. Foliage is huge, ovate and toothed, with deeply scored veins which give it an almost quilted look. It boasts a particularly long season of interest, one of the many reasons it was awarded the prestigious RHS Award of Garden Merit.

Skimmia

Fairly compact evergreen shrub that flowers from spring into early summer. Known for being hardy they are equally happy in a border or in containers on a patio. With a compact habit they are fairly low maintenance, perfect for growing in borders or containers on a patio.

Sarcococca (Christmas Box)

sarcococca-humilis-christmas-box

Amazingly easy to grow, dense and reliable evergreen. It has slender, tapering shiny leaves and produces sweetly fragranced flowers from December to February. After flowering, Christmas Box produces an abundance of attractive berries. Excellent in partial shade, even in drier soils.

Ilex (Holly)

 

Evergreen Hollies (or Ilex) will give all year round pleasure from the vivid new growth in spring and early summer to the berries in winter. When birds can’t find anything else to eat they will flock to the holly bush. Stems of holly are ideal for winter floral arrangements, and look particularly dazzling when painted silver or white. English Holly (Ilex aquifolium) is our December Plant of the Month.

Edgeworthia chrysantha

Edgeworthia chrysantha

This winter flowering gem was named after Michael Pakenham Edgeworth, who collected it in the Himalayas and brought it back to Britain in the mid-1800s. Cinnamon coloured branches provide a stunning contrast to the clusters of fragrant, tubular yellow flowers. A great plant for the winter garden, they rarely succumb to pests and diseases, but will need a sheltered spot.

Chinese Witch Hazel

Exotic Chinese witch hazel (also known as Hamamelis) are deciduous, winter flowering shrubs that produce clusters of sweetly scented, crinkled flowers in a range of fiery shades, bursting into life like mini firework displays from December to March.

Corylus avellana Contorta (Corkscrew Hazel)

 

corylus-contorta-with-catkins

 

A real conversation piece. This unusual and resilient deciduous shrub has the most amazing twisted stems and branches earning it the common name corkscrew hazel. In summer the branches bear a tangle of broadly ovate green leaves followed later by nuts. In late winter and early spring a mass of weeping yellow catkins unfurl. This curious variety has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. A great architectural plant and an ideal choice for creating a wildlife garden attracting moths, butterflies and a variety of insects as well as birds and squirrels. A slow growing shrub, it will reach around 1.8-2m after ten years.

Chimonanthus praecox

Chimonanthus praecox - Wintersweet

 

These are a truly striking sight, producing unusual pendant yellow flowers on leafless branches in winter. The flowers have a strong spicy fragrance, and last from November until February. It will grow into a good sized rounded shrub, or can it can be trained to grow against a trellis or wall. Introduced from China it is also known as ‘wintersweet’ or ‘Japanese Allspice’. They are hardy and noted for being able to survive a frost, although will appreciated a sunny, sheltered spot in the garden where they will make the most of the summer heat, ripening in winter where, after a good summer they will produce abundant flowers. These are a real winter beauty, and will not carry the same impact when it has lost its flowers, so it is worth considering their position carefully where space is at a premium – although its brilliant fragrance and particular beauty in the winter make it well worth growing.

Dogwood (Cornus)

Spectacular bushy shrubs, ideal for creating a showy feature in the garden, they bring a burst of colour that is particularly valuable in a drab winter garden. The shoots can also be used as part of an imaginative indoor cut-flower display, perhaps even spraying them gold and silver for a festive look. We’d recommend planting in groups of three for a truly fantastic show in winter once all the other colour is gone.

Our top Cornus Choice: Cornus Midwinter Fire

4.1.2

Cornus Midwinter Fire (commonly known as dogwood) is a shrub which produces ovate, mid-green leaves and small, cream/white flowers in May and June – however, the flowers are not the star of this show. In autumn, Cornus Midwinter Fire stays true to it s namesake, slowly revealing brilliant flame-coloured stems as the leaves fall away. Shoots begin a yellow-orange, with the tips turning a brilliant red as the season goes on, giving the shrub a flaming look.

Lonicera purpusii Winter Beauty

honeysuckle-lonicera-purpusii

Also known as the winter flowering honeysuckle. Masses of creamy-white, fragrant flowers are produced in midwinter. This plant flowers reliably by Christmas year after year, flowers lasting until early spring. Sprigs can be used for scented winter flower arrangements. We’d recommend planting Winter Beauty as a standalone specimen in the border, but it can also be trained up a wall or fence.

Mahonia

Fabulous evergreen shrubs producing large leaves, autumn flowers followed by colourful berries all throughout the winter months. With their compact habits they will work well in a mixed border, ideal for partnering with over evergreen shrubs such as Buxus, Camellia or a Photinia Red Robin.

Our Top Mahonia Choice | Charity Cabaret

The Mahonia Nitens Cabaret also known as Oregon Grape, is an amazing new introduction to the Mahonia range. It will produce the usual glossy holly like evergreen leaves you would expect from a Mahonia. It is a compact variety and produces its flowers from the end of summer and right through the autumn, with stunning oranges and reds. After the flowers have bloomed, blue berries will form, these work wonderfully with the winter foliage.

Jasmine

This marvellous fragrant shrub will flower throughout the summer and into the winter months. it presents gorgeous dainty star shaped flowers, usually pure white, pale buttery yellow or very rarely deep pink. A stunning adornment for any trellis, fence or wall, the pretty flowers bring a distinctive sweet scent. It will do well in most soils, can be pruned in early spring to keep to a tidy shape and keep it nice and healthy for repeated stunning displays year after year.

Our Top Choice | Trachelospermum jasminoides (Jasmine)

Trachelospermum jasminoides. Star Jasmin

A highly fragrant, vigorous climber that produces clusters of beautiful, star shaped pure white flowers from June throughout the summer months, which turn to cream with age. It has dark green leaves which turn bronze in winter. It is best to grow Trachelospermum jasminoides against a warm, sunny wall. Can climb to 8m, however prune after flowering to size required. This Jasmine is a stunning addition, for a wonderful display throughout the summer months perfuming the air with its sweet fragrance.

Callicarpia profusion

callicarpa-profusion

Also known as ‘Beauty berry’, it is a beautiful eye-catching medium sized deciduous shrub which produces masses of tiny star shaped lilac flowers in summer. When pollinated, these start to form the outstanding clusters of vibrant purple, almost metallic berries we see in autumn and winter. Not only do these berries bring a welcome splash of colour at a time when there is very little, they also provide a valuable source of food for birds during the colder months which they will thank you for. It is not just the berries that are showy- young leaves begin a bronzy purple colour, maturing to deep green in summer and fading to lime green, then eventually plum purple in autumn. We’d recommend planting in groups of three.

Gardening for Shaded Areas


Shade Gardening

If you find that your garden has limited access to natural light then fear not, there are still many plants available for growing in partial or even fully shaded areas.

shady-garden-bench

Highly shaded areas need not be a deterrent to getting active in the garden and are in fact increasing becoming more popular as gardeners in many urban areas are finding ways of making the most of every possible little piece of space. Be creative and you will easily find something that can fill almost every little corner of the garden.

Balcony in Ang Mo Kio area. Growing flowers and herbs in hanging pots balcony/corridor is very popular in Singapore .
Balcony in Ang Mo Kio area. Growing flowers and herbs in hanging pots in a balcony or corridor is very popular in Singapore.

Creating your own border when light is restricted can actually be an easy process and doesn’t differ too much from planning a sunny border.

But first!

Two essential considerations when selecting shade loving plants….

  • Good drainage
  • Make sure the soil receives a good level of nutrients

During the wetter periods of the year and in particular when little light is present to absorb the extra moisture on the surface, good drainage will help maintain a good growing environment and provide the best chance possible for the roots. Because the sun is restricted then you can help the plants in shaded areas by adding a natural organic substance or fertiliser to the soil to help enrich the soil. This will help replace the nutrients that may be missing and hopefully help avoid the soil from drying out.

shadey garden path

Creating your own border when light is limited can be an easy process. When choosing plants have a check to see if they will tolerate partial shade or full shade, then let your own preference be the guide. Have a look now at some of our suggested plants and bulbs, all suitable for planting now in preparation for flowering next year.

Perennials

The range of perennial plants and shrubs available is quite extensive and there is sure to be something for everyone.

Hosta

Hosata smaller

Designer Hostas are a popular choice because of the wonderful foliage they offer and can really add a touch of class to the border.

Ferns

Mixed ferns

Ferns will prosper beautifully and come in such a variety of colours that they must be worth a try.

Tricyrtis

Toad lilies

Tricyrtis (Toad Lilies) can also be used to add an unusual effect with their truly amazing spotted flowers in autumn.

Heuchera

Heuchera

The front of a border can benefit from the stunning foliage that Heuchera can bring, particularly since recent developments in breeding have introduced new colourful varieties such as ‘Autumn Leaves’ (bright ruby red foliage) and ‘Plum Royale’ (shiny purple foliage). These low-growing plants will easily fill gaps and spaces in the border that may be left between larger trees and shrubs.

Convallaria Bordeaux

4.1.2

If you would like to add little fragrance in spring then we suggest trying the very reliable Convallaria Bordeaux (Giant Lily of the Valley), great for planting in groups where the white flowers show themselves from the middle of spring on wards.

Monarda

Monarda

Monarda are a superb choice for fragrance in summer and autumn, where the spiky head flowers are complimented by a wonderful mint aroma.

Bergenia Erioca

Bergenia Erioca

A new improved version of the more common Bergenia. The hardiness of Bergenia makes it suitable for gardens all over the country, even in some of the colder parts of northeast Scotland.

Shrubs

Popular shrubs for a shade-loving border come in all shapes and sizes. Some can be grown as stand-alone items in a border, while all those listed below will work side-by-side with many perennials and shrubs to add a really varied showing.

Big leaf Hydrangea

Hydrangea Magical Revolution Blue

The big leaf varieties will do well in shade. Our pick is Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Magical Revolution Blue,’ which will tolerate even fully shaded areas where almost no natural light gets in. This variety produces large headed blue flowers, which actually turn deep purple as the flowers mature.

Juniper Sky Rocket

Juniper Rocket Juniperus

A marvellous narrow conifer tree that can grow up to 3m, and because of its slender column shape it will not restrict light for other areas of the garden.

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia Creeper)

Parthenocissus quinquefolia - Virginia Creeper growng with Hedera - Ivy on house wall

If you have a south-facing or a wall where light is obstructed then why not try growing a climber up the wall, with Virginia Creeper the ideal candidate because of its remarkable leaf colourings, especially in autumn.

Vinca major ‘Variegata’

Vinca Major Variegata

A great variegated leafed evergreen shrub that will grow in almost any garden soil and location. Wonderful for growing underneath trees as well, where the blue flowers appearing in spring can last up until autumn.

Pachysandra terminalis

Pachysandra terminalis

For year around appeal you could also try the increasingly popular Pachysandra terminalis, which will save hours of intensive garden labour by suppressing weeds and acting as a ground cover shrub. The vivid green, succulent foliage is a real sight when planted in rows and can act as a low growing path boundary or screen.

Bulbs

A good way to make the most of shaded areas under trees and large shrubs is the introduction of naturalising bulbs, which left undisturbed over time will often multiply to create a beautiful woodland effect.

English grown Daffodils and Narcissi bulbs

Narcissi

Many varieties are suitable to grow is shaded areas and our favourites to give a try are ‘Cheerfulness’ (Showy double white variety), ‘St. Patrick’s Day’ (Lemon yellow blooms) and the original native UK Daffodil ‘Obvallaris’, fondly known as the Tenby Daffodil. (Illustrated in order mentioned from left to right).

Crocus and Miscellaneous bulbs

misc bulbs

Great for planting en masse and leaving to multiply in highly shaded areas. The dwarf nature of these perennial bulbs make they great for adding a little bit of colour where needed. For some spring colour try planting Crocus ‘Prince Claus’ (colourful blend of white and blue) or the wonderful yellow Crocus ‘Fuscotinctus’. Iris reticulata ‘Cantab’ will offer an enchanting pale blue display or the popular Muscari armeniacum will create a sea of lavender blue/purple.

Bluebells

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The perfect flower to round up our list. Coming across bluebells in the wild is a real treat and many people like to grow their own. They love being planted under trees and are a real delight in dappled shade. Also supply these in the green for easy transplantation and reliable results.