I also tend to be conservative in the garden when it comes to cutting plants back. I'm good about dead-heading spent flowers and I frequently give plants a trim as they start to lose their shape, but I shy away from bold haircuts, always afraid I'm going to cause more harm than good.
A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I attended a presentation at Rogers Garden, a plant nursery in Orange County. The subject was the use of shrubs to give structure to the garden but the thing that stuck with me was the horticulturist's emphasis on the importance of giving shrubs a good haircut after each bloom cycle. She discussed 12 plants and, in every case but one, she recommended pulling the foliage up and chopping off a third to half the growth after each bloom period. She clearly didn't envision taking careful little cuts branch by branch as I tend to do. The approach was more on the order of grab and chop - very efficient by comparison to my usual approach.
Emboldened by her recommendation, I decided that it was time to charge ahead with my own pruning activities. I went to work, starting with the front yard.
|Front Bed - Before|
|Front Bed - After|
|Abelia x grandiflora 'Kaleidoscope' (after haircut)|
|Penstemon heterophyllus 'Margarita BOP' (after haircut)|
|Pentas-NoID (after serious haircut)|
This Salvia, planted only a few months ago, got just a trim.
|Salvia macrophylla (after trim)|
|Plectranthus (NoID) - After 2nd trim|
|Shrub hedge - street view after pruning|
|Shrub hedge - street view, unpruned segment|
|Shrub hedge - view from back, after pruning|
I've only tackled 2 of 9 of these shrubs so far, which is rather like cutting one section of hair and leaving the rest. Here I am again, asking: Why the hell did I do that? How long is this going to take to grow out? What can I do with this? I suppose I'm committed to see the thing through. As one of my neighbors said, I can always create a new screen with other plants...