Extreme Pruning

I’ve been at it again: earning brownie points. Sorry Rant.

You may have read my previous blog, A Holiday or Hard Labour, where I spent a week’s holiday constructing raised beds for my good-life inspired wife to start growing vegetables. Well, I have just enjoyed some more holiday and, although this time I spent more of it doing nice things, I have also had some more brief dalliances with DIY and gardening.

First I put new felt on the shed roof. This seemed like it should be difficult, but it wasn’t. Of course, there is still plenty of time to find that it still leaks, but so far it seems OK. Spurred on by this success I turned my hand to some DIY carpentry to build a nice tidy box around the unsightly drains near the back door. That was as difficult as I expected and it took me bloody hours. Still, by my standards it’s looking pretty good if I do say so myself. And today, the last day of my holiday, I have embarked on more gardening, this time of the destructive variety: extreme pruning.

Many years ago, in a fit of gardening enthusiasm, we landscaped the garden and bought a number of attractive shrubs to brighten the place up. Who knew that these innocent looking little shrubs would turn out to have a voracious appetite for world conquest that would put even the most devilish Bond villain to shame?

Well, clearly anyone with a horticultural bent would know that. Or even anyone who bothered to read the little label that came with the plant. But when you are faced with a little shrub barely a foot high you don’t really appreciate the magnitude of what they are eventually going to become. Especially if you don’t prune them at all.

So, fast forward a good number of years and things are clearly getting out of hand and our once spacious back garden seems to be shrinking beneath shrubbery at an alarming rate. Something must be done.

The bushes in question were a California Lilac (or ceanothus burkwoodii to the Latin-speaking cognoscenti) and a Rose of Sharon (or, if you insist, hypericum calycinum). Both are beautiful, with a wealth of lilac and yellow flowers respectively, but both have seriously outgrown their small patch of border. The latter is now no more: cut back and dug up. The former, a more impressive challenge, we decided to prune back to within an inch of its life to see if it will re-grow in the hopes that, this time, we will do better at taming it.

Rose of Sharon (© (2009) Paul Ashford, http://www.NZplantpics.com)


In the background you can see a different California Lilac in a different part of the garden, but you get the idea.

Digging out the rose of sharon

All that's left of the California Lilac

The rest of the California Lilac

A large grub I found - anyone know what it is?


About Darrel Kirby

I am what I am.
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3 Responses to Extreme Pruning

  1. Rant says:

    Dear oh dear oh dear. I fear you have set off on a road of no return. You have given absolutely no thought or consideration for the rest of us non-DIY literate gentlemen. Shame on you sir. Shame on you!

  2. Rant says:

    I have decided to wait until the children are sufficiently capable of building it themselves.
    I think they’ll thank me in the long run.

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