1) This climber has gone well past the point where a light trim will suffice and allow more light in the window behind. However, we don’t want to dig it out and cutting it off at the ground is likely to kill it. This is an ornamental jasmine (not the dangerously rampant variety) and we like the fragrance.
2)The tendrils going over and under the spouting, and even worse, under the roof tiles are a warning that action needs to be taken now. Looking into the mass of vines, you can see that the downpipe is under threat and also that the plant is putting out new growth from the middle and not just on top.
3) Cut back the foliage hard. We are aiming for a curved shape around the corner of the house. It is easier to work out which vines to keep when you can see where each one is headed. You can use a chainsaw for the initial shaping and follow up with clippers and secateurs to tidy up the rough cuts.
4) Trace the path taken by the vines and remove unwanted stems in sections. If you try and pull it out in long lengths, you run the risk of damaging the growths you want to keep. We are trying to protect the house and to allow the window to be opened so we are thinning extensively. More frequent pruning would have avoided this.
5) Thin out clutter and remove all dead wood.
6) The finished product looks shorn and a shadow of its former self but should grow away strongly. In our mild and soft climate, we can do this type of cutting any time of the year but gardeners in cold, inland areas may wish to wait until late winter or early spring, timed for just before the plant will put on its first flush of new season’s growth.
7) This is the photo that we did not use in the newspaper when this feature first ran – not perhaps the best advertisement for safe practice (though Mark asserts that he was holding on tightly with the hand which is out of sight…).