I never had any other desire so strong, and so like to covetousness, as that one which I have had always, that I might be master at last of a small house and a large Garden.
Abraham Cowley The Garden (1666)
“There is a psychological distinction between cutting back and pruning. Pruning is supposed to be for the welfare of the tree or shrub; cutting back is for the satisfaction of the cutter.”
Christopher Lloyd The Well-Tempered Garden (1973)
Garden lore – spring pruning
With spring now officially here – unofficially it arrived some weeks ago for many of us – it is the last call for hard pruning and clipping. The birds will be starting to nest and if you leave it any later, you will be carrying out the ornithological equivalent of mass infanticide. In addition to that, the sap will be starting to rise and it is generally better to prune when the plant is in a dormant or near dormant state. Grapevines in particular must be pruned right now. They weep for ages after pruning if you do it too late.
My definition of pruning and shaping is anything that requires a saw (be it a hand saw or chainsaw), loppers and secateurs. Hedge clippers, line trimmers and snips see you in the territory of clipping and shaping. If you are using a line trimmer on hedges or bushes in spring, do a check for nests first. Those mechanised tools are unforgiving and indiscriminate once they are going.
First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.