Garden lore

” The nonagenarian President of Magdalen, Dr Routh, was once brought the news that the acacia tree outside his lodgings had been blown down by a storm. “Put it up again,” was all he said; and up, of course, it went.”

Oxford by James Morris (1965)

Prunus Awanui, flowering in spring here, has a tendency to develop witches' broom

Prunus Awanui, flowering in spring here, has a tendency to develop witches’ broom

Summer pruning

Now, at the height of summer, is the time to prune prunus, be they flowering cherries, fruiting cherries, plums, peaches, nectarines, apricots or almonds. Naturally you wait until they have finished fruiting for the season where possible. These plants are always pruned when in full growth to stop the dreaded silver leaf or silver blight getting in to the cut surfaces and taking hold. If your flowering cherry had large patches which didn’t bloom in spring and where the leafy growth is denser, then you have witches’ broom and it needs to be cut out now. If you leave it be, it will take over the whole tree and you won’t get any flowers at all in due course. It affects the Japanese type cherries but not the earlier flowering campanulata or Taiwanese varieties.

Make clean cuts with a sharp pruning saw and if you are moving on from an unhealthy tree specimen, then disinfect pruning implements between. Otherwise you can transfer disease. Wiping the cutting blades with meths or chlorine should work.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.