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Tony Smith

Tony Smith Artist and Garden Designer

  • Date Joined: 13 Mar 2009

Recent Comments

To Prune or Not to Prune, Me and Mr Darling in the Same Bed

Posted by Tony Smith on 25 Mar 2010 at 12:52 PM

 I, like many people around the country, spent yesterday afternoon listening to what may well be Alistair Darling's last budget. What strikes me as possibly the most interesting aspect of the budget is the way it mirrors what's happening in my garden, both in timing and content. To prune or not to prune, that is the dilemma, both for Mr Darling and my humble self. Furthermore, it seems we have both come to the same conclusion:

Sometimes the wise thing to do is not to do anything at all.

One political commentator noted that due to the state of the economy and impending election, it was a do nothing budget. Hear! hear! I agreed and that's just what's happening in my garden right now. Spring is later than normal (whatever that is) and several of my plants have sustained damage over the winter.

However tempting it may be to tidy up those apparently dead stems, the right thing to do is nothing at all, that is until the spring is well and truly under way and it becomes clear how far the damage has gone.

My hardy fuchsia dies back by a different degree each year and it's only when it starts into growth that it becomes clear where to cut it back to. Several shrubs have been damaged in the same way including rosemary, Arbutus Elfin King and Callistemon.

One of my eccentricities is an irrational fondness for Cordylines, not I should add the fancy coloured ones that are in my opinion ghastly, but the plain green ones with thick trunks, spreading heads and wonderously scented flowers. There are some plants (not many) that have a quality of presence that immediately creates atmosphere.

I have found through experience that Cordylines suffer from two problems, horticultural snobbery and an infuriating variability when it comes to hardiness.

I have one specimen that has come through the winter unscathed but several others are looking very sad. I will be waiting until early summer to see if the growing point is dead or alive. If there is no sign of recovery by the end of May I will cut back to a few inches from the ground.

For now I will follow Mr Darling's example and do nothing more than a little tinkering round the edges.

Oh, I almost forgot I am still working on the Easigrass garden for Chelsea but as nothing very interesting has happened this week I felt I could get away with a little bit of politics!

PS I am off to visit the Fernatix on Saturday to look at and discuss ferns for Chelsea.


Marion said:

My first visit to " My Garden". I too love the Cordyline and have two. One is tall and stately and survived the Winter, the other looks a little forlorn and weather beaten.

Enjoyed your article and look forward to seeing you at Chelsea

on 26 Mar 2010 at 06:51 PM

away_with said:

Variability when it comes to hardiness

In my Herefordshire hillside garden some of the more tender plants have survived unscathed: no damage to my several different Rosemary shrubs, to Cordyline or even to handsome, evergreen, marginally hardy Lupinus albifrons. Euphorbia mellifera, Watsonia and Convolvulus cneorum have survived but look so hideous, I rather wish they hadn't. Agapanthus and Zantedeschia have been reduced to piles of slime from which they will probably emerge in spring - but is 8 months of splendour worth the sight and smell of stinking greenish brown slime oozing down the retaining wall?

on 27 Mar 2010 at 10:55 AM