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By Bernard

Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom Gb

We are very happy that the following shrubs existed in the garden when we bought the property. They need pruning and because of health problems I need to use a contractor for this. I have discovered through unhappy experience that far too many contractors seem to have very little knowledge of the appropriate time for this and are happy to hack away whatever the customer wants.
I believe that different shrubs should be pruned at different times and I wonder if any GoYer could give me the benefit of their experience.
The shrubs concerned are: Holly, Ceanothus, Garrya elliptica, Choisya, Euonymus, Aucuba japonica, Photinia, Pyracantha, Spiraea arguta, Oleria, Prunus laurocerasus, Lonicera nitida, Box, Weigela, Prunus lusitanica, Berberis, Viburnum tinus, Taxus baccata, Spiraea japonica 'Goldflame', Vibutnum bodnantense, Holodiscus discolor, Cornus sanguinea, Rhododendron.
Crumbs, I hadn't realised how many there were until I wrote them all down, especially as there are three or four specimens of some of them. I hope I'm not asking too much, but, fingers crossed, someone might be able to help and who knows, the answers might be helpful to other GoYers like me.



The times that *I* would prune the following:

Holly - if you mean common Holly - December
Ceanothus - if I had to then May and only lightly
Garrya elliptica - May
Choisya - May
Euonymus - never had to, but May
Aucuba japonica - never had to but May
Photinia - May
Pyracantha - not sure
Spiraea arguta - October
Olearia - April/May
Prunus laurocerasus - April/May
Lonicera nitida - Never had to but May
Box - June
Weigela - not sure
Prunus lusitanica - May
Berberis - April/May
Viburnum tinus - April/May
Taxus baccata - May
Spiraea japonica 'Goldflame' - October
Vibutnum bodnantense - No idea
Holodiscus discolor - no idea
Cornus sanguinea - October/November
Rhododendron - never had to but May

Most shrubs are best pruned in early spring!

9 Sep, 2011


Weigela and pyracantha after flowering, so May or June. Put the secateurs away, Bernard...

9 Sep, 2011


I disagree about the pruning time for spirea arguta . If you prune in October( other than very lightly) it will not flower next year. Spirea arguta flowers on second year growth so should be pruned imediately after flowering.

Weigela should be pruned imediately after flowering ( same reason as for spirea arguta )

Spirea Goldflame can be pruned in October but it flowers on first year growth so you could prune in early spring.It will cope with very hard pruning in spring and still flower later in the year .

Although many shrubs can be pruned in early spring I would suggest that if you follow the rule "prune imediately after flowering" you won't go far wrong .

One exception to this is shrubs that have berries after flowering. eg pyracantha,cotoneaster. These are awkward because if you prune after flowering you won't get any berries and if you prune after berries it may well be too late and you won't get much flower next year. The way I deal with this is to wait until you can see the berries beginning to form and then prune as much as you can off the plant whilst still leaving some berries on for you to enjoy

9 Sep, 2011


I do pyracantha after flowering, Anchorman - and I don't cut out any stems with flowers present so the berries are not lost.
Agree about Spiraea argutea, another one to be done after flowering.
I just noticed Prunus laurocerasus on the list too - that can be pruned when its dormant in November or December as well as late spring.

9 Sep, 2011


You are right about contractors Anchorman. Some of them can't seem to differentiate between pruning and butchery. See if you can find a proper gardener rather than a contractor. The last thing you want is a lot of little round flat topped balls.
Lonicera nitida is often used for hedging and clipped regularly, so it depends whether you want a natural bush shape or a close dense one.

9 Sep, 2011


It wasn't me talking about contractors Steragram but I agree many know very little about gardening. I am a professional gardener and like to think I'm one of the good ones. If I come across a tree/shrub/plant I don't know anything about I look it up before attacking it!


One of my main bug bears is customers who insist on me pruning stuff at the wrong time of year. eg weigela just before it flowers.

Some customers (control freaks) cannot stand it if a shrub is more than a millimetre longer than they think it should be.

I have one customer who has a huge number of beautiful shrubs ,non of which ever flower because of her insistence on things being "tidy". I've tried to explain why but she says "I'd rather it look tidy than have lots of untidy flowers!"

Being a professional gardener isn't easy. I've long ago learned never to second guess customers requirements. The first time I prune something I always ask exactly what is required. Sometimes they look at me as though I'm stupid or don't know my job but one persons light pruning is anothers butchery!

I remember once pruning some roses and the customers virtually burst into tears because her late husband Fred never pruned them that hard ( which is why they were leggy and unattractive)

I assured her they'd be OK and they flowered beautifully later that year but I learned my lesson. Explain what you're about to do before you do it is now my motto

10 Sep, 2011


Oh my word, we couldn't be more different then, Anchorman - if a customer wants me to prune something too hard or at the wrong time or not enough, I point blank refuse, giving the reasons why. It gets done when it should, as much as it should or not at all... or you find someone else. No point paying a dog and barking yourself is my motto, lol!
The last customer who was continually incalcitrant and insistent on my doing the wrong thing lost their gardener, I ditched her. And have never returned, despite her pleas ....

10 Sep, 2011


Yes I've considered ditching the customer but she's 85,unwell and very set in her ways but otherwise a lovely lady so I put up with it.

10 Sep, 2011


Sorry Anchorman, should have said Bernard. I do admire your patience with the old lady. I wonder why she bothers with a garden if she finds flowers untidy!

It must be so difficult sometimes to decide whether you are going to please the shrub or the customer

10 Sep, 2011


I tend to work on the principle that the customers gets what they want. I do try to talk them out of bad practise and wouldn't do anything that would kill a plant but if she wants stuff pruned at the wrong time and doesn't mind about lack of flowers I reluctantly take the view that she's paying my wages so she gets what she wants.

Here's part of the garden in question

You can see one of the weigela which never flowers and there's a 12 foot pyracantha hedge off shot which has never flowered in 6 or more years and several other shrubs which I have to trim almost every other week.

On average I get my hedge trimmer out perhaps 2-4 times per year at most of my customers gardens but with this one it's out trimming something almost every week.

10 Sep, 2011


Gracious me, what a response. Thanks to all who commented. Now I will have to go carefully through all the suggestions and try to work out a pruning programme.

12 Sep, 2011


Wow, there's a garden where everything stands to attention - I wonder if she dusts the lawn! You have to admit its immaculate, but its a pity about the flowers.

12 Sep, 2011


> I wonder if she dusts the lawn!

No but I do!


12 Sep, 2011


Lol shan't believe you till we see a photo with duster!

14 Sep, 2011

How do I say thanks?

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