Tag Archives: step by step guide

Outdoor Classroom: pruning raspberries, step by step

 

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1) The timing of pruning raspberries is not critical as long as it happens before they come into growth in early spring. In fact it is widely recommended that you start taking out spent canes as soon as they have finished fruiting in summer (or in autumn for the twice fruiting varieties) but it is far easier when they have lost their leaves and you can see what you are doing. In our experience, it does not matter if we leave it until winter because it does not seem to affect fruiting or plant vigour.

 

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2) We grow our raspberries in a netted cage which is currently home to the new pigeons who are undergoing six weeks of acclimatisation before release. The pigeons were less than impressed at our intrusion.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA3) Strong gloves are recommended, along with sharp secateurs.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA4) This season’s new canes which will bear fruit next summer are red. The old canes, which are dying off, are brown and dry. Remove all old canes from the base of the plant. Thin out any weak new canes.

 

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5) Shorten the new season’s canes to a manageable length around 150 to 180cm. Dig out any suckers which are in the wrong place.

IMG_00316) Alternatively, hoop the canes over and tie them to a frame as shown here. This is now my preferred approach. While it takes a little more time, it keeps the rampant canes under better control, increases the fruit set down the stem and makes picking very much easier. I then feed each clump with a generous helping of compost.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA6) The prunings need to be burned or disposed of. We clip them to manageable lengths and gather them in a wool bale for convenience. You can’t compost prickly old stems. Town dwellers may like to dry them and then burn them on a woodfire or put them out with the rubbish. Ours will go on the burning heap.

Renovating old camellia plants: step-by-step

1) Camellia sasanqua “Sparkling Burgundy” has had quite a bit of work done on it over the years to thin the branch structure and to lift the lower levels to allow light below. This has made a feature of the size and age of the plant which is now more of a small tree than a shrub.

2) However, this camellia has little in its favour. The top layers of foliage are not in good health and look scruffy and full of dead wood. We will rejuvenate it by cutting it back very hard to bare wood. This is best done any time from through winter until early spring.

3) The plant is virused which affects its vigour. Virus in camellias is not always bad. It is what gives variegated leaves and two tone flowers. However, if you then use the cutting tools on a healthy camellia, you will transfer the virus. It pays to disinfect saws and secateurs immediately after finishing the affected plant. You can do this by simply dipping in a bucket containing diluted bleach.

4) Cut back to whatever level you wish. Most camellias will resprout and come again even when cut off at ground level, but we want a bushy shrub about 1.5 metres high by summer so we are leaving bare woody stems around that height, cut a little lower at the sides than the centre. If you leave some of the old trunks, you keep a strong structure and shape for the bush. If you cut off at the ground, you will be starting over with a carpet of fresh shoots which may not give a good long term shape.

5) This Camellia yuhsienensis was cut back early last spring to completely bare stems with not a single leaf remaining. Such ruthless cutting forced dormant leaf buds into life and it is now a bushy little shrub although we won’t get as many flowers as usual for another year.