Newsletter Jul 2022

As the growing season approaches, it is time to tidy up the garden, and a large part of that exercise is pruning.

Pruning is about more than just keeping the garden looking neat enough that you can see what’s what and appreciate each plant individually. Removing dead, diseased or damaged tissue or wood allows the plant to focus all its energy on new growth, which in turn encourages fruiting and flowering. Pruning is also an opportunity to get rid of weak shoots and frost damage.

Cutting back is of course also a way of shaping plants as you desire. Bonsai growers have taken this to another level, but shaping has always been an important part of garden design – from topiary to cultivating standard shrubs; from coppicing to wall pruning to pleating. The options are endless and the internet is a wonderful source of styling ideas. (As a side note, avoid shaping every shrub to the point where your garden no longer has any sense of life! Like hard landscaping elements, sharply styled plants work best as focal points and a foil to more exuberant growth.)

It is tempting to rush for the secateurs at this time of year, but there are some guidelines to be followed.

For one thing, try to hold off until the danger of frost has passed; generally mid- to late JULY (climate change effects excluded). Also be aware that not all plants should be pruned now! You will be very disappointed with your early summer display if you prune spring and early summer flowering shrubs at the end of winter. They flower on shoots from the previous season, so wait until their blooming is done before cutting back. You can however confidently wield your shears on late summer and autumn flowering plants now, as they flower on the current season’s growth.


It really is a waiting game in the garden at this time of year, isn’t it? Many of the winter flowering plants are past their prime while our spring and summer friends are just starting to stir. A good time for planning, preparing – and pruning.

A well pruned shrub

Healthy new growth on a buddleja

Sprouting bletilla bulbs


Click here to view all the plants in this newsletter on the website.

Indigenous plants

Aristea ecklonii alba (with the quirky common name of white-eyed grass) is a rare perennial with greyish green strap-like leaves and spikes of white flowers in spring. Evergreen and hardy, it grows on average 40cm high, and wants moist soil in a sunny to semi-shady position.

Indigenous to the eastern parts of South Africa, Burchellia bubalina is an attractive approximately 5m high ornamental shrub with glossy dark green leaves and terminal clusters of bright orange flowers in spring to summer. Evergreen and hardy, it is happy in sun or shade.

Cotula nigellifolia is a fast-growing very hardy bog plant with grey-green fern-like foliage and small white daisy-like flowers all season. It grows about 50cm high and prefers shade. People on smallholdings or farms should be aware that it is fatal to cattle!

If you need a tough customer that won’t easily die on you, look no further than Osteospernum imbricatum. A hardy evergreen perennial that thrives in full sun and dry sandy soil, it reaches an average height of 50cm or more, and has gorgeous dark yellow flowers in summer.

Exotic plants

An enduring favourite, the old-fashioned wallflower Erysimum cheiri offers us orange and mauve colour from winter to summer. A sparse perennial growing on average 70cm high, it is evergreen and hardy, and likes part shade. The bees love it.

The tubular orange red flowers of Salvia gesneriiflora can also be a blessing in the transition from winter to spring. This is a multi-stemmed, evergreen and hardy sub-shrub from Mexico which reaches an average height of 2.5m and is happy in sun or semi-shade.

Hippeastrum papilio, aptly also named the butterfly amaryllis, is a clump-forming evergreen bulb with red and green flowers in spring that are nothing short of spectacular. Hailing from Brazil, it is semi-hardy and wants a shady position.

Ipheion uniflorum is one of those little deciduous gems that you completely forget about - until you find its lovely pale blue star-like flowers dotting the spring garden. A very hardy low growing (25cm) bulb with garlic-scented grass-like leaves and long flower stalks, it likes sun to semi-shade.


Open gardens beckon as we move into spring and summer. I will be sure to share a number of links in the August newsletter. In the meantime…


Happy gardening!


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