Weekend Work: The ABC of pruning

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The Independent Online

This is an important time for pruning, particularly those shrubs that flowered in the second half of last summer, or which produce coloured stems for winter effect. It's important also to know which shrubs NOT to cut back. The all-over barbered look is no more suitable for gardens than it is for men.

Abelia Cut out any branches that have died back or been damaged in winter. Make the cut just above a new green shoot. On overgrown bushes, thin out some of the old wood.

Abies No regular pruning is required but you must not let the tree develop a forked top with two leading shoots. Where this has happened, cut off one of the pair of leaders as close to the main trunk as you can.

Abutilon On outdoor plants, cut back any dead or damaged shoots. Conservatory plants need tougher treatment. Cut back the main branches by half and reduce all the laterals to about 10cm (4in).

Berberis No regular pruning is necessary, but cut back long straggly growths. To rejuvenate old specimens, take out one or two stems at ground level each year.

Bougainvillea Best done in February, but if you have forgotten, act now. Shorten main growths by a third and cut back all the laterals close to the base.

Buddleia Cut all growths back to within 8cm (3in) of the old wood.

Campsis Hard prune this rampant climber by cutting back the previous year's growths to within 8cm (3in) of where they started.

Caryopteris Prune strong growth hard back to new buds at the base. Cut out weak growths altogether.

Ceratostigma No regular pruning is required but overgrown or damaged branches can be cut down to the ground now.

What to see

Gilbert White, the 18th-century parson and naturalist used his garden at Selborne in Hampshire as a living laboratory, experimenting with plants and noting the results in a superbly detailed journal. This Wednesday at 6.30pm, David Standing, head gardener at Selborne, talks about White and his work at the Garden History Society, 70 Cowcross St, London EC1, admission £10. For tickets call 020-7490 2974, or see gardenhistorysociety.org.

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