The new perennial look.

How to rejuvenate your shrubs

By John Brookes MBE


Here, in the south of England, we have been having days of warm, sunny weather which has allowed me to be out in the garden cutting back the plant material. The result is that the place not only looks double the size, but much more tidy and ‘shipshape’ for the new season as well.

I find that many people are afraid to cut back woody material since they think that they will kill the plant. The solution to doing something to the ‘wretched thing’, is to trim it into a rounded lollipop shape, so that the growth becomes thicker and thicker and you end up with a series of balls in the garden, looking like the local parks department.

Really pruned, that is thinned to reduce the head of the plant, and its thickness at the right time of year, you in fact rejuvenate your plant, and they take on a new lease of life.

But what is the right time of year to give your garden this attention? Well obviously, and if you can avoid it, you do not cut back a plant just before it comes into flower. So cut back when it has finished flowering so that you allow a full years growing time before flowering again.  It makes sense?!

The walled garden prior to cutting back.

The walled garden prior to cutting back

The winter before last I really tore into our walled garden which was initi