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Amateur Gardening

Amateur Gardening 1-Feb-2020

Every week, Amateur Gardening is the first choice for both beginners and knowledgeable gardeners looking for advice and easy-to-follow practical features on growing flowers, trees, shrubs as well as fruit and vegetables. Be inspired, by our beautifully illustrated features covering plant and flower groups, both home grown and exotic, and take a sneak peek into some of the most beautiful private gardens around the country. Plus, every week we feature expert opinion and tips from some of gardening’s most influential exponents including Toby Buckland, Bob Flowerdew, Anne Swithinbank, Peter Seabrook and Jo Whittingham.

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United Kingdom
Future Publishing Ltd

in this issue

2 min.
last chance to get pruning

THERE are two main reasons why we prune trees and shrubs; to keep them healthy and in good shape; and, in the case of varieties that produce fruits, to keep them cropping well. The dormant weeks of winter are the main pruning times (see page 5 for exceptions) and as spring is hopefully advancing towards us with welcome haste, time is running out to get any necessary cutting back done and dusted. If cutting back is left until buds start to swell and leaves unfurl, the pruning wounds will bleed more sap, which can weaken the tree and present entry points for pests and diseases. The thought of pruning can be daunting, but it needn’t be as the ‘rules’ are pretty straightforward and the results can be spectacular. My one caveat is that…

1 min.
pruning made easy

1 Cut away dead and diseased wood to healthy growth and remember to sterilise your blades afterwards. 2 Remove spindly shoots and any that are growing inwards, cluttering up the centre of the tree or shrub. 3 Prune out extra shoots growing from the base of the trunk so they don’t crowd the main growth, and steal water and nutrients. 4 Remove broken and splintered wood cleanly before it can admit pests or infections or, in the case of larger branches, become dangerous to people and buildings.…

1 min.
pruning and aftercare

1 Cut to a healthy outward-facing bud to avoid congesting the centre of the tree or shrub. Regular annual pruning also promotes blossom and fruiting. 2 When pruning high or difficult branches, stand on a balanced platform or ladder and use long-handled loppers for easier cutting. 3 Clear weeds and grass so they can’t compete for food and water. Don’t forget to feed and mulch trees and shrubs after pruning. 4 Waste not, want not. Chop up small prunings for the compost heap and gather up longer ones to use as pea sticks and plant supports this summer. In love with planting: In next week’s AG, I start getting ready for another year of gardening, including planting one of our favourite shrubs, the bleeding heart (Dicentra formosa).…

1 min.
hard pruning

When trees and shrubs are left to grow unchecked, they can become an unruly tangle of branches and weak stems. This not only looks unsightly, but can also cause a reduction in flowering and fruiting. Bring it back to life with some hard, or renovation, pruning. In the first year, take out dead, damaged, diseased and congested growth to ground level and remove half the shrub. Trim remaining stems by one half. The following year thin out excessive new growth and shorted remaining branches. In the third year, remove any remaining older stems before returning to a normal annual pruning regime. Feed and mulch well after each pruning. There may be no flowers for a season or two after renovation pruning, but the eventual result should be a stronger plant and improved blossoms and cropping. If…

1 min.
trees and shrubs that need leaving alone for now

ALTHOUGH most trees and shrubs can be pruned now, especially those that lose their leaves in autumn, there are some that should be left alone. Most obviously, these include early flowering varieties such as forsythia, camellia and philadelphus that flower on the previous year’s growth. Cut them back now and they won’t produce blossom, so leave them alone until they have flowered. The sooner you cut them back after their blooms have faded, the longer they will have to produce flowering stems for next year’s colour. You should also leave evergreens alone as they are generally less hardy than deciduous varieties and sub-zero temperatures may damage or kill off cut stems. Wait until the weather has warmed up in late spring. Spores of the fungal disease silver leaf (Chondrostereum purpureum) are prevalent in autumn…

1 min.
look after wildlife in winter

1 Hedgehogs hibernate until late March or April, so if you see one out it may be ill. Wearing gloves, wrap it in a blanket in a box and take it to a hedgehog sanctuary. Call the British Hedgehog Preservation Society 01584 890 801 to find your local one. 2 Ponds are an excellent source of drinking water for winter wildlife, so place a couple of balls in the water to prevent it freezing. Never hit ice to try to smash it as the reverberations can stun or kill fish or amphibians hiding in the water. 3 Keep feeding the birds with quality food, such as that provided by CJ Wildbird Foods, and provide them with clean water. Clean bird tables regularly with weak disinfectant and remove uneaten food that can accumulate…